Over 65s 'seven times more likely' to develop skin cancer than 40 years ago

UK patients aged 65 or over are seven times more likely to develop malignant melanoma than they were 40 years ago, according to Cancer Research UK figures.

Malignant melanoma growth (Pic: P. Marazzi/SPL)
Malignant melanoma growth (Pic: P. Marazzi/SPL)

Cancer experts have renewed calls urging patients to visit their GP if they notice any changes to their moles or skin.

Getting sunburnt as often as once every two years can triple the risk of developing malignant melanoma, Cancer Research UK said.

The latest data show that around 5,700 pensioners are diagnosed with melanoma each year on average, compared with just 600 in the mid-1970s.

Older British men are 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with the potentially life-threatening disease than their parent’s generation while older women are around five times more likely.

'Seek medical opinion'

The huge increase could be linked to cheap package holidays becoming readily available from the 1960s onwards and trends for a year-long tan becoming more prevalent.

Malignant melanoma affects around 13,300 people a year in the UK, making it the country’s fifth most common cancer. It is also the second most common cancer in young adults (aged 15-34).

Professor Richard Marais, from Cancer Research UK, said: ‘It's worrying to see melanoma rates increasing at such a fast pace, and across all age groups. It is very important for people to take care of their skin in the sun.

‘It is also important for them to keep an eye on their skin and seek medical opinion if they see any changes to their moles, or even to normal areas of skin.’

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