Did you know that the 10 hottest years in the UK since 1884 have all happened since 2002? If you’ve been basking in the recent sunshine, you might have spotted the new Met Office analysis revealing the surprising timeline - as well as sizzling in the sun as temperatures last month reached a record-breaking 38.7 °C! 

But with the headlines come the annual health warnings about sun exposure and the risks of skin cancer. So, how likely are you to get it, and what can you do if you get a diagnosis?

What is skin cancer?

According to the NHS, skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. The most common type is non-melanoma, which slowly develops in the upper layers of the skin. More than 100,000 new cases of non-melanoma are diagnosed in the UK every year, with more men affected than women. Non-melanomas include squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, the type for which actor Hugh Jackman has been treated several times. 

Less common, but potentially more serious, is melanoma, which can spread to other parts of the body. According to the latest Cancer Research UK figures, there are nearly 16,000 new cases of melanoma skin cancer every year, 86% of which are preventable. The good news is that survival rates are high, at 90%, yet in 2016 there were still 2,285 deaths from melanoma - more than six each day.

Is skin cancer covered by health insurance?

Cancer, including skin cancer, is covered by the majority of health insurance policies as standard. According to financial information business Defaqto*, 37 out of 49 private medical insurance products include cancer cover, while 29 offer a full refund on radiotherapy, which is one of the treatments for both melanoma and non-melanoma. 

Our partner Bupa has an exclusive self-referral service for many types of cancer, including skin cancer. Any member who believes he or she is experiencing cancer symptoms can call the Cancer Direct Access team to talk to a specialist adviser, without the need to see the GP first. 

If the adviser thinks that the customer needs to be referred to a consultant, an appointment will be made. If the customer has symptoms that are not covered by Cancer Direct Access, they will be advised to see their GP, and can also receive on-the-spot clinical advice from a Bupa nurse. 

Non-melanoma is also listed by Vitality Life as one of 178 conditions included its Serious Illness cover. Following diagnosis, a payout of five percent of the cover value is paid; for example, a customer with a cover of £50,000 would receive a payout of £2,500. Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma of specified severity are both covered.

If you would like to find out more about private medical insurance for skin cancer, you can calculate the right health insurance for your age and lifestyle with our online comparison tool. And to find out more about spotting the signs of skin cancer and protecting your family’s health while enjoying this glorious weather, read our article on skin care in the sun

* Data sourced on August 8, 2019.