People over the age of 65 are about seven times more likely to develop malignant melanoma than 40 years ago, according to figures from Cancer Research UK.
Men over 65 are about ten times more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma (a form of skin cancer) than those over 65 were in the mid-1970s.
Women over 65 are now about five times more likely than men to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma than men were in the mid-1970s, the research found.
While age is a major risk factor for melanoma the increase has also been linked to package holidays and the increased fashion for tanned skin.
Getting sunburnt once every two years can triple the risk of developing a malignant melanoma, the charity warned.
In 2012 there were 2,148 deaths from malignant melanoma skin cancer while 90% of those diagnosed are predicted to live ten or more years.
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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