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Older people at greater risk of skin cancer

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Skin cancer is seven times more likely to be diagnosed in people over the age of 65 than 40 years ago, figures released by Cancer Research UK have shown.

The figures show that the average number of diagnoses of malignant melanoma in pensioners has risen from 600 in 1975 to over 5700 in 2015, a 603% rise. Cancer Research UK has suggested that although age is a constant risk factor for skin cancer, the rise in the average number of diagnoses is likely to be linked to cultural factors, such as the popularity of package holidays to warm countries such as Spain and Portugal, and the popularity of tanned appearances.

Matthew Patey, chief executive of the British Skin Foundation, said: 'We are reaping what we have sown. In the 60s and 70s, there was a lack of information and limited knowledge about the effects of skin damage caused by sunlight. People were bombarding themselves with sun and we are seeing the effects of that in these figures.'

Men are particularly at risk, with male patients 10 times more likely to develop skin cancer than they were in 1975. Women are five times more likely to develop the condition. The condition kills approximately 2100 people each year according to the figures.

Professor Richard Marais, Cancer Research UK's skin cancer expert, 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. Melanoma is often detected on men's backs and women's legs but can appear on any part of the body.'

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