Skin Cancer Cases Soaring Among 'Sun, Sea and Sangria' Generation Of Over 55s, Charity Warns

Cheap package holidays may be to blame.

01/07/2016 10:46

Sue Deans, 70, was first diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2000 after having a mole removed.

In 2007, the retired teacher and mother-of-three discovered a lump under her armpit and was told the cancer had come back.

"I was part of the generation where package holidays became affordable and people were starting to go nearly every year. I loved being out in the sun, working on my tan but did get sunburnt quite a bit over the years," she said, according to PA.

"I don’t think people understood at the time the impact that too much sun can have on your risk of getting skin cancer."

Unfortunately, Deans' story is far from unique. New figures suggest skin cancer cases are soaring among the "sun, sea and sangria" generation of over 55s.

Martin Barraud via Getty Images

According to the latest figures from Cancer Research UK, for the first time more than 10,000 people aged 55 and over have been diagnosed with the most serious form of skin cancer in a single year.

A total of 10,583 people aged 55 and over were diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2014, the most recent figure available, up from about 3,100 cases 20 years ago.

In addition, rates of melanoma in general in people aged 55 and over have more than doubled (up 155%) in the last 20 years.

The charity is warning the boom of cheap package holidays could be to blame.

 "The increase in over 55s being diagnosed is likely to be linked to the ‘sun, sea and sangria’ generation who benefited from the cheap package holiday boom dating from the 1960s, and the desire to have tanned skin even at the expense of sunburn," Sarah Williams, Cancer Research UK’s health information manager said.

Melanoma remains the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and according to Cancer Research UK, there are around 2,000 deaths every year from the disease among those aged 55 and over.

Dr Julie Sharp, the charity's head of health and patient information, said: “The best way to protect skin when the sun is strong is to spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, and to cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses.

"Sunscreen can help protect the parts you can’t cover – use one with at least SPF 15 and four or more stars, put plenty on and reapply it regularly."

She added that it's best not to rely on sunscreen alone.

"Use a combination of things to help protect your skin whenever possible," she said. "And never use sunscreen to stay in the sun for longer."

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