People in their sixties and seventies are around five times more likely to be diagnosed with deadly skin cancer than their parents were 30 years ago, figures out today show.

Malignant melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and incidence rates have risen dramatically since the 1970s. People in their sixties and seventies have seen the biggest increase over the last three decades, from seven cases per 100,000 people in the mid-1970s to 36 cases per 100,000 in 2004-2006.

More than 10,400 cases of malignant melanoma are diagnosed each year in the UK. Cancer Research UK, which carried out the analysis, said many older people with skin cancer would have been enjoying cheap package holidays in the 1970s. Launching the charity's SunSmart campaign, Caroline Cerny said: "The problem threatens to get worse as teenagers continue to crave a tan on the beach and top it up cheaply on sunbeds." She said people should use a high-factor sunscreen and avoid getting red or burning in order to get a tan.