What every Australian should know about skin cancerPosted 23 November 11
The statistics in this article take your breath away. It reinforces that we cannot be complacent about our skin and skin protection.
Slip, Slop, Slap people!
Up to 50% of Australians Will Get Skin Cancer
With our enviable climate and fantastic beaches it’s little wonder that Australians have an entrenched outdoor culture.
However, our love of the great outdoors is a double-edged sword. We have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, and it’s also the most common form of cancer in Australia.
Long-term exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun damages the genetic material in our skin, leading to skin cancer. Living up to the myth of the ‘bronzed Aussie’
is a major health risk. There is no safe way to tan.
Many Hundreds of Australians Need Not Die Every Year
Over 200,000 Australians are treated for skin cancer each year. It kills more than 1,000 Australians every year, and many of these deaths are preventable. Melanoma is a deadly skin cancer if not treated early, and accounts for about
70% of these annual deaths. The remaining 30% of deaths result from the more common types of skin cancer, when they have grown too large and/or have spread throughout the body.
What Causes the Development of Skin Cancer?
Fair-skinned Australians are in the highest risk group of developing skin cancers, but Australians with olive complexions are certainly not immune to the problem.
Exposure to sunlight in childhood and adolescence is a major factor in causing skin cancers. A history of severe sunburn increases the risk of developing melanoma, and persistent moderate long-term sun exposure increases the risks of both non-melanoma skin cancers and melanoma.
Now the Good News: Skin Cancer Can be Detected Early
Because it is highly visible, skin cancer is generally detectable at an early stage. This, followed by prompt treatment, leads to a greater chance of cure. Early detection is particularly important for malignant melanoma.
But it must be diagnosed early. The first step is self-monitoring. If you have an at-risk type skin (fair-skinned, freckles, a large number of moles) or have a history of skin cancer, make sure you check your skin regularly: every three months – for example, at the beginning of every season.