Cancer Research UK statistics show more than 13,000 people develop malignant melanoma each year, compared with around 1,800 in the mid-1970s. It says the rise is partly due to rising popularity of package holidays to Europe from the late 1960s. Sunbed use has also fuelled the increase, the charity has said.
Malignant melanoma is now the fifth most common cancer, with more than 2,000 dying from it each year. Around 17 people in every 100,000 are diagnosed with the disease in Great Britain every year – compared with three per 100,000 in the mid 1970s.
Mark Birnie, 48, from Chesterfield, was originally told a mole on his shoulder was a cyst. However, in February 2013 it was diagnosed as a malignant melanoma. He said he had more tissue removed followed by radiation treatment and then quarterly skin check ups. He said six weeks on from having surgery to remove two of the tumours and treatment on the remaining one, he was at home recuperating.
Those with the highest risk of the disease include people with pale skin, lots of moles or freckles, a history of sunburn or a family history of the disease. Experts advise spending time in the shade, covering up and using at least an SPF15 sunscreen.
Nick Ormiston-Smith, head of statistics at Cancer Research UK, said: “Since the mid-1970s, malignant melanoma incidence rates in the UK have increased more rapidly than for any of today’s 10 most common cancers.