PHE Skin Cancer

Skin cancer prevention in men across the South of England

Read more about it below

The challenge

Since the late 1970s, skin cancer incidence rates have more than quadrupled (360% increase) in Great Britain. The increase is larger in males where rates have increased more than six-fold (544% increase), than in females where rates have more than tripled (263% increase).

Data from Public Health England show that in the South West there was a 31.9% rise in incidence of malignant melanoma between 2009 and 2014, from 1,444 cases to 1,906 cases. There was also a 14.5% rise in mortality from malignant melanoma, from 248 deaths in 2009 to 284 deaths in 2014.

NHS England and Public Health England commissioned Social Change UK to undertake behaviour insights research on prolonged sun exposure and skin cancer prevention. Research undertaken will provide NHS England and Public Health England with a baseline understanding of awareness levels of skin cancer and sun protection among the target audience, who have been identified as men living in the South of England that spend a considerable amount of time outdoors (either professionally or recreationally).


What we did

We conducted a region-wide survey to gather data on awareness levels and existing behaviours, which would help to identify situations and scenarios where men were most likely to protect themselves from the sun. The survey also captured recall of the #CoverUpMate campaign, which ran during the Summer in 2016.

Following the survey, we conducted telephone interviews to delve deeper into the insights from the survey. As well as proving further insight into behaviours and attitudes, we explored key themes, messages and approaches to develop the #CoverUpMate campaign for 2018.


What we found

The research into skin cancer prevention in men found that the issue is more complicated to tackle than initially perceived. The complexity of the issue comes from the need to adopt a multi-perspective approach, which requires challenging perceptions held, implementing good workplace practice and raising awareness of early warning signs.

We found that although men had good awareness of the risks and consequences of prolonged sun exposure, they were less proactive in preventing becoming at risk by not taking correct measures in sun safety.

This was also linked to a sense of complacency by men around skin cancer due to a lack of awareness, particularly in how to prevent it. There was a call to increase publicity around the message on skin cancer prevention, particularly through the use of hard-hitting campaigns.


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