Cancer Research UK has announced that incidences of melanoma have increased by 45% since 2004.

Latest figures show that rates have increased by more than a third (35%) for women and by almost three-fifths (55%) for men, and that rates for 25-49 year-olds have increased by as much as 70% since the 1990s. Despite these rising figures, melanoma is still most prevalent in those over 65.

The figures have been released to mark the launch of the charity’s Own Your Tone campaign which encourages people to embrace their natural skin tone and protect their skin from too much sun.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK reminded he public that despite a tan often being seen as a sign of good health, “there is no such thing as a healthy tan, it’s actually your body trying to protect itself from harmful rays.”

She continued to say that the statistics “highlight the importance of our Own Your Tone campaign, which encourages people to embrace their natural skin tone and adopt sun-safe behaviours.”

Melanoma skin cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK and the second most common cancer in people aged 25-49, but Cancer Research UK says that almost 90% of melanoma cases could be prevented if people took better care of their skin in the sun both at home and abroad. Getting sunburnt, just once every two years, can triple the risk of melanoma skin cancer.

Fortunately, awareness of melanoma skin cancer is also increasing, meaning more people are being diagnosed with, and treated for, the disease.