While lying in the sun today, remember that the overwhelming majority of Britons are ignorant about commonly occurring skin marks that can lead to full blown cancer, according to a new survey. The research, by NOP, found that 96% of people in Britain had not heard of actinic keratoses. These usually appear as dry scaly patches of skin and occur most frequently on areas exposed to sunlight such as the face, hands, forearms and lower legs. People over 65 are most at risk of developing them because of their lifetime's exposure to the sun. Up to 20% of people with actinic keratoses go on to develop squamous cell carcinoma, a common type of skin cancer which is one of the most treatable if diagnosed early. The incidence of skin cancer is increasing and more than 46'000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year. But more than three-quarters of those surveyed had not had their skin checked by a nurse, GP or dermatologist in the past five years. The survey of more than 2'000 adults also found that 40% of people would ask a friend or relative to look at a new mark that appeared on their skin or they would wait to see if it then got bigger or changed in any way before going to see a doctor. A campaign called SolarCraze - supported by Marie Curie Cancer Care and funded by Shire Pharmaceuticals Ltd - is being launched to encourage people to consult a doctor if any new or unusual marks appear on their skin.

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