A MAJOR project to reduce the number of people in Devon affected by skin cancer has been launched by Public Health England.

The 'Be Clear on Cancer' campaign in Devon, Somerset and Cornwall aims to raise awareness of skin cancer and emphasise that a change to a mole isn't the only sign of the disease.

Devon has some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the UK, with almost 3,000 new cases per year in Devon. Malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is the second most common cancer in the 15 - 34 year old age range.

Rates in all ages have more than quadrupled in the last 40 years.

However, up to 80% of skin cancers could be prevented through practising sun safety and avoiding sunburn.

The project, funded by Devon County Council's Public Health Team and led by Westbank Community Health and Care, aims to increase the knowledge of skin cancer, and encourage people to protect themselves, spot the signs and seek early diagnosis.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “In Devon we are fortunate to have a relatively reduced risk of developing life limiting diseases such as cancers. However our rates of skin cancer are above the national average.

“Detecting it early can save lives, so we are asking people to tell their doctor if they notice any persistent or unusual changes to their skin.

“We are supporting the Be Clear on Cancer campaign as part of our work to increase people's awareness of the signs and symptoms of skin cancer and encourage them to follow up any concerns with their doctor. This will enhance the work we are also doing to encourage people to protect their skin from the sun's harmful rays.”