Cancer Research, UK, has released a report, which says that people over 65 are around seven times more likely to develop skin cancer (malignant melanoma) compared to 40 years ago.
Older men in Great Britain are around 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer while older women are around five times more likely to develop this disease than their parents' generation. The most recent figures show that on average around 5,700 pensioners are now diagnosed with melanoma each year compared with just 600 in the mid 1970s.
AdvertisementApart from age being one of the biggest risk factors for melanoma, the huge increase in pensioners being diagnosed with the disease is likely to be linked to the cheap package holiday. Sue Deans, a 69-year-old retired teacher was first diagnosed in 2000 with malignant melanoma after the doctor removed a mole, and re-diagnosed in 2007 after she discovered a lump under her armpit.
"I was part of the generation where package holidays became affordable and you could go abroad nearly every year. I don't think there was much understanding at the time about the impact that too much sun can have on your risk of getting skin cancer. And I loved the sun but suffered quite a bit of sunburn over the years," she said.
Professor Richard Marais, skin cancer expert, Cancer Research UK, said, "It is 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."
He warns that it is 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. "Melanoma is often detected on men's backs and women's legs but can appear on any part of the body," he added.
Dr Julie Sharp, Head of health information, Cancer Research UK, said, "Many cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, are preventable by taking precautions in the sun and making sure you don't burn."
Malignant melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK. Around 13,300 people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma in UK each year and 2,100 people die from the disease.