Research for Nuffield Health also found that many cannot recognise the symptoms and are unaware of the dangers of sun exposure.
Half (49 per cent) the UK population believes the personal risk of skin cancer is low or non-existent.
More than a third do not think they could identify symptoms of skin cancer, such as new moles, itchy or bleeding moles or moles that change colour or shape.
Despite warnings that sunburn can lead to skin cancer, a third say they get burned once a year or more.
Nearly a quarter of parents with children of school age say their children are sunburnt at least once a year and 26 per cent of younger parents aged between 16 and 34 say their children burns at least three times a year.
Nuffield Health said its UK hospitals had seen a 16 per cent increase in skin cancer cases among 16 to 34-year-olds since 2007.
Dr Walayat Hussain, a consultant dermatologist with Nuffield Health in Leeds, said: “Skin cancer can affect anyone at any time and can be a particularly aggressive disease.
“Unfortunately, awareness is generally low, so that by the time a patient is referred they may have been living with the disease, undiagnosed, for some time.
“A skin check by a doctor is painless and quick and should be part of the routine of anyone who spends lots of time outside.
“Being familiar with what’s on your skin means you will notice any small changes and seek early treatment if necessary.”