Nearly one in three New Zealanders have not had a mole check - but feel they need to.

Results from a Herald-DigiPoll survey show 31.3 per cent of Kiwis think they should get their suspect skin blemishes checked out by a health professional, but have not done so.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand, with Kiwis at high risk of developing a skin cancer during their lifetime, the Cancer Society warns.

"Our skin cancer rates are among the highest in the world. Melanoma incidence rates in Australia and New Zealand are around four times as high as those found in Canada, the US and the United Kingdom."


About 28 per cent of poll respondents said they had had a mole check carried out by a professional within the last three years.

Just over 21 per cent said they did not want a check and a little over 15 per cent admitted they would like to have a mole checked - but could not afford to.

Younger respondents - aged 18 to 39 - were the least likely to have been checked and most likely to cite cost as a barrier.

Older respondents - aged 65-plus - were the most likely to have been checked and the least likely to cite cost factors.

New Zealand's high skin cancer rates are due to high levels of UV rays during daylight saving months; low ozone levels over New Zealand; our outdoor lifestyle; and the high proportion of people with fair skin, the Cancer Society says.

"Light skin and eye colour, large numbers of moles and excessive sun exposure (particularly intermittent episodes of sunburn), especially in childhood and adolescence, can increase your risk of skin cancer."

Yet skin cancer is readily preventable. The Cancer Society actively promotes prevention and early detection to reduce the risk of developing the disease.

The summer poll surveyed 750 people from around the country.