Summer is coming!

We would like to share the following information with you over the coming weeks courtesy of our friends at SunSmart and the Cancer Council of Australia.

With summer now upon us it is a timely reminder for us all to look after ourselves, especially when outside over the warmer summer months.

The reality is that Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. This is due largely to our climate, the fact that many of us have fair skin that isn’t suited to such harsh conditions, our proximity to the equator (high UV levels) and our social attitudes and love for the outdoors.

Each year over 1850 Australians will die from skin cancer (ABS 2010). At least 2 in 3 Australians will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, with the risk being higher in men (2 in 3) than women (3 in 5).

The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented and we can all minimise our chances of developing skin cancer by being SunSmart and getting to know our skin.

Who is at risk?

Everyone in Australia is at risk of developing skin cancer due to high levels of UV radiation throughout the year.

You are at increased risk of developing skin cancer if you have:

· lots of moles or freckles

· fair skin that burns easily and does not tan

· light coloured eyes (blue or green), light coloured hair (blonde or red)

· suffered sunburns, particularly as a child

· a family history of skin cancer

· used solaria

· spent lots of time in the sun, even if sunscreen was used.

For more information call the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or visit their website at;

Melanoma in Australia

Recent reports indicate that 10,326 Australians were diagnosed with melanoma in 2006 (6,051 men and 4,275 women) making melanoma the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in Australia (behind prostate, bowel and breast cancer) (AIHW 2009). There were 1,437 melanoma recorded deaths in 2008 (965 men and 472 women) (ABS, 2010). Melanoma accounts for 11% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia (AIHW,2008) and is the third most common diagnosed cancer in men and women (AIHW. Cancer in Australia 2008).

Australian adolescents have by far the highest incident of malignant melanoma in the world, compared with adolescents in other countries. It is the most frequent type of cancer in both sexes, and accounts for one third of all cancers in female adolescents and one quarter in males (Stiller CA: 2007). A history of multiple severe, painful sunburns is associated with malignant melanoma (Jones LME, 2000).

Over 8% of melanoma cases are diagnosed in people aged under 35 years old, 28% in those aged 35-54, 41% in those aged 55-74 and 23% in those aged 75 or older (AIHW, 2008).

Melanoma in the ACT

Cancer in the ACT Incidence and Mortality (2009) reported skin melanoma as the third most common diagnosed cancer in both males and females in the ACT. According to recent cancer statistics in 2002-2006, 1 in 25 males and 1 in 35 females in the ACT developed melanoma before the age of 85 years.

A difference in mortality rates between males and females was also recorded, with females being lower. This may be due to the tendency of men tending to seek medical attention in the later course of the disease more then women, therefore decreasing their chances of survival.

The risk of dying from melanoma was one in 165 males and one in 605 females in the ACT before the age of 75 years (with one in 110 males and one in 310 females in the ACT before the age of 85 years old).

As for most cancers, incidence and mortality of melanoma increased with age. Diagnosis of melanoma before the age of 20 is uncommon, with five (5) cases recorded in the ACT between 2002-2006.

Rates in males and females were similiar until 55 years of age when rates increased sharply in males. The highest mortality rates were recorded in males over 55 years old.

There has been an upward trend in melanoma age standardised incidence rate in both ACT males and females (a similar upward trend was also seen in NSW and Victoria).

The ACT Chief Health Officer’s Report for 2010 noted melanoma as the forth most common diagnosed cancer in the ACT (10.6% of all cancers) during 2002-2006 period.

For more information call the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or visit their website at;

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