The number of people diagnosed with skin cancer has reached the highest since records began, Cancer Research UK says.
The charity revealed that melanoma cases across all age groups in the UK has reached 17,500 per year.
In addition, there has been a sharp rise among people aged over 55. Since the 1990s, skin cancer cases among this age group has risen by 195%, the charity reports.
Around 21 people per 100,000 aged over 55 were diagnosed with melanoma between 1993 and 1995.
The charity also estimated that, over the next 20 years, melanoma cases could increase by 50%. As a result, this would hit a record of 26,500 by 2040.
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While cases are rising, however, Cancer Research UK has stated that deaths from skin cancer are decreasing. This is due to early diagnosis and treatment.
The charity has suggested that the rise of a serious type of skin cancer amongst older adults is linked to a boom in cheap package holidays in the 1960s before people became aware of skin cancer.
In addition, it believes other factors include trends to have tanned skin, a growing and ageing population, and more people getting their skin checked.
Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: ‘Our new analysis paints a mixed picture for cancer patients and the staff who care for them.
‘While it’s promising that more people are seeking treatment for skin cancer earlier and survival is improving, it’s alarming that cases of the disease could soar over the coming years.
‘Melanoma is the UK’s fifth most common cancer, and we know that 86% of these skin cancers could be prevented.’
She added: ‘It’s important to take care in the sun and to contact your GP if you notice any unusual changes to your skin – it’s not just changes to a mole that matter, it could be a sore that doesn’t heal or any unusual changes to an area of your skin.
‘Spotting cancer early can make all the difference.’
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