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Skin cancer

Backgound and Policy Context

MelanomaCancer is one of the two biggest causes of premature death in Wales. With our ageing population, the demand for cancer care is increasing. More information specifically about skin cancer from a patient's perspective can be found via the NHS Direct Wales links alongside.
Tackling cancer then, is one of our top health priorities and a key component of Designed for Life  which sets out the Welsh Assembly Government's long term approach for health and social care. (Source: Designed to Tackle Cancer 2006)  

This policy's aims are structured around the themes of more prevention, early detection, improved access and better services

What are we doing about skin cancer?

Prevention Initiatives

One of the Government’s key aims is to reduce the incidence of all cancer in Wales through primary prevention. The main ways that we can prevent and reduce the impact of cancer include:
  • Changing those things that have been shown to have a direct causal effect on cancer rates and occurrence.
  • Detecting cancers as early as possible through improved public and professional awareness of symptoms.
  • Detecting cancers through cancer screening programmes.

Skin cancer, including non-melanoma skin cancer and malignant melanoma, is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Wales. The main cause of skin cancer is excessive sun exposure, and relatively small changes to the way people behave in the sun can decrease personal risk. (source Designed to Tackle Cancer) 

We are encouraging sun protection behaviours through national campaigns, local initiatives and by providing education and advice through Primary Health Care Teams.

Early Detection 

Recognition of possible warning signs for cancer and access to medical advice at an early stage is linked to earlier diagnosis and a higher probability of a successful outcome.

A further requirement is the need for professional roles and competence in early identification of cancer symptoms. The Skills for Health initiative is aimed at supporting skills improvement. The implementation of National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance on referral of suspected cancer is designed for this purpose also .

At the moment there is no general screening programme in the UK for skin cancer. Primary Health Care Teams are key players in identifying high risk groups and in referrng suspected cases to hospital dermatologists and Multidisciplinary Specialist Teams

Improved Access

Here the policy aim is to provide diagnosis, treatment and palliative care services for people with cancer that match or surpass the best in Europe . In particular, to
achieve and sustain comparable one year and five-year survival rates with the top European quartile by 2015.

The National Cancer Standards represent the elements of cancer care that patients should expect to receive and cover areas relating to the organisation of cancer
services, patient-centred care, multidisciplinary teams, initial investigations and time to diagnosis and treatment.

Better services

Clinical audit addresses quality issues systematically by providing reliable information with an aim of improving the quality of services. The roll out across Wales of the Cancer
Information System Cymru (CaNISC) supports clinical audit.

The National Cancer Standards also detail key elements for improving the quality of cancer services.

Service planning 

Services  [ Service delivery]

Other links