The number of cancer cases is rising, despite the billions of pounds spent on trying to understand and control the disease.

Figures published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that an extra 25,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2000, compared with nine years earlier.

The incidence of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, has soared by 64 per cent among men and 45 per cent among women. Melanoma is still more common in women with 3,300 cases in 2000 compared with 2,500 cases in men.

The figures will concern campaigners who have warned against spending too much time in the sun or on sunbeds.

There was also a steep rise in cases of prostate cancer, up 62 per cent to 23,100 cases. The ONS said this was largely due to increased detection through the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test.

Breast cancer in women increased by 8 per cent, to 33,800 cases in 2000 and cases of testicular cancer rose 33 per cent to 1,650 cases.

There were falls in cases of some cancers such as cervical cancer, down 32 per cent to 2,400 cases, and stomach cancer, down 23 per cent in women and 21 per cent in men.

Lung cancer fell in men by 25 per cent to 19,000 cases, reflecting the decline in smoking among men from 20 to 30 years ago. But lung cancer in women rose 4 per cent to 12,100 cases because women took up smoking later than men.

In 2000, 225,556 new cases of cancer were registered, compared with 200,700 in 1991. Almost equal numbers of men and women were affected. The size of the increase suggests that the new cases are associated with changes in lifestyle.

Professor Robert Souhami, Cancer Research UK's director of clinical and external affairs, said: "These statistics provide an important insight into the changes in cancer incidence over the last decade.

"The figures highlight the worrying increase in melanoma, which has one of the fastest growing incidences of all cancers, despite it being almost entirely preventable.

"We need to persuade young people especially to change their attitudes towards tanning and their behaviour relating to the sun and sunbeds."