MORE than 10 per cent of the public were advised to consult their GP over concerns of skin cancer at a Poole Hospital sun safety awareness event.

From the 62 people examined at Sandbanks, seven had potentially cancerous moles.

It comes after it was revealed cases of skin cancer have increased by more than 10 per cent in five years and the high rates in Dorset - among the highest in the UK - are down to factors including the outdoor lifestyle, sailing and an ageing population.

In 2011, the hospital saw 101 new cases of melanoma. Last year that figure rose to 112.

To combat the rise, experts from the hospital have sun-safety information and provided free mole and skin checks.

Juliet Hately, lead skin cancer nurse specialist at Poole Hospital, said: “The earlier you get your skin checked, the better. We see people with skin cancer that they have had for some time and unfortunately for some it has spread to other parts of the body.

“We always recommend that if you have anything on your skin that isn’t healing or see any changes in your moles, you should see your GP as soon as you can.

“I think a lot of people we spoke to were surprised about the risks of sun exposure, many hadn’t thought about the consequences of achieving a ‘holiday tan’.”

Dr Caroline Morgan, lead consultant dermatologist at Poole Hospital, said excessive sun exposure causes most skin cancers.

She said: "Melanoma is increasing every year in Dorset and this event is integral in educating people on how to stay safe in the sun and how to look after your skin properly.

"Sunburn as a child can double the risk of developing malignant melanoma later in life.

"The majority of skin cancers are curable if caught at an early stage. It's recommended that you check at least once a month for new or changing moles. Our aim is for people to enjoy the sun without the risk of developing skin cancer."