New data from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland shows the number of new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer reached over 10,000 for the first time in 2011.

This marked an 81% increase since records began in 1994.

The number of cases is expected to double by 2040.

The study showed skin cancer is the most common cancer in people aged between 15 and 44.

The largest increase was found in young people who live in affluent urban areas who are exposed to repeated sunburn.

At the start of its Sun Smart Campaign, the Irish Cancer society says skin cancer can be prevented in nine out of ten cases by protecting the skin from harmful UV rays.

Rosemary Scott, Health Promotion Officer at the Irish Cancer Society said: "Despite Ireland's cool and cloudy weather UV rays can reach the skin most days from April to September and cause damage that increases the risk of skin cancer."

The Society is encouraging the public to follow the four steps of the SunSmart Code; that is to stay in shaded areas, cover up, wear sunglasses and put on sunscreen.