The Federal Office for Statistics has reported that 2,000 new cases of skin melanoma are recorded each year in Switzerland, making it the fourth most common cancer in the country, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.
According to the European Institute of Cancer Research, the number of new cases per year is so high that Switzerland has now topped the European rankings.
The number of cases reported has risen from 13 per 100,000 women during 1984-1988 to 21 per 100,000 from 2004-2008. For men, that number has risen even more from 13.7 to 23.5 per 100,000.
It is worthy of note that the number of cases reported represents those diagnosed at an early stage of development, before the cancer has really been able to spread.
The number of cases diagnosed at a later stage of development remained stable, at 7 percent of cases for women and 10 per cent of cases for men.
There are two potential explanations for the increase, Dr. Gürkan Kaya, head of the Dermatopathology Unit at the University Hospital of Geneva, told the newspaper. First, it is possible that the number of instances has in fact risen, he said.
An alternative, and more likely explanation according to Dr. Kaya, is that doctors and individuals are becoming more alive to the dangers of over-exposure to the sun. This is resulting in a greater number of checkups, which in turn means more melanomas are being picked up in the early stages.