NSW men over the age of 50 are three times as likely to die from melanoma as women of the same age, research has found.
More than half the men in NSW over the age of 50 are not aware of the high risk associated with skin cancer, Cancer Council NSW data released this World Cancer Day shows.
More than a quarter believe it's already too late to take action to reduce their skin cancer risk.
Associate Professor David Smith, men's health expert for Cancer Council NSW, said two out of three Australian men will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.
"Skin cancer is Australia's national cancer," he said.
"However, despite decades of sun protection advice, men are still putting their lives in danger by not acting on the fact that too much sun, or not keeping watch for any changes to your skin, can be deadly.
"Our recent survey of men's behaviours and attitudes highlighted that 58 per cent of men aged 50 and over believe they do enough to protect their skin, when in fact men in general are slacking on the basic sun protection measures."
Prof Smith said previous evidence showed that 75 per cent of men in NSW were failing to wear broad-brimmed hats, 70 per cent weren't using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15+, and almost half weren't wearing sunglasses when going out in the sun.
Professor David Currow, Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, said the evidence showed that by protecting ourselves from harmful UV can prevent 95 per cent of melanomas and 99 per cent of non-melanoma skin cancers.
"Yet, what we have seen over the past ten years is a significant rise in both the numbers of men diagnosed with melanoma, and the number of men dying from this largely preventable disease," Prof Currow said.
"While some men may think the damage has already been done by their mid-fifties, it's important for all of us to remember that we need to continue to reduce our risks of skin cancer."