New Zealand has, together with Australia, the highest melanoma incidence in the world. The combination of skin type and UV impact from the sun put the inhibitors of New Zealand at a high risk. So let’s take a closer look at the current melanoma NZ situation.
Melanoma NZ: The facts
According to Melanoma New Zealand, over 4000 people are diagnosed with melanoma (either melanoma in situ or invasive melanoma) every year in New Zealand. That adds up to around 11 every day, which is quite shocking of course. Although melanoma is only the fourth common cancer in NZ, it accounts for over 80% of all skin cancer-related deaths.
The main risks of melanoma are the same all over the world. Examples are sunbeds (tanning), a history of sunburns in childhood or adolescence, having a lot of (unnatural looking) moles and a family history of melanoma skin cancer cases. But for New Zealand specific, there is also the combination of two other risk factors: a large part of the population has fair skin, and the UV exposure is also high due to the amount of sunshine.
Maori & Pacific people
New Zealand has an interesting mix of inhabitants, with a combination of skin types. And although Maori and Pacific people have a lower chance of getting melanoma, they often have thicker, more serious melanomas. This means that for Maori and Pacific people, prevention (and early detection) is just as important as to any kiwi.
Taking a deeper dive into Melanoma NZ shows the risks that people from New Zealand are dealing with. So prevention, next to awareness, is the most important thing. What do you need to know to prevent melanoma?
- Occasional bursts of high UV, like on holidays when you lie on the beach, are especially harmful. Stay in the shade during the warmest hours of the day.
- Avoid tanning. Using sunbeds before the age of 35 is associated with more than 50% increase in the risk of melanoma.
- Melanoma can also occur on the soles of the feet, palms of the hand and under the nails.
- Sunburns will increase the risk of developing melanomas at a later stage of your life.
To follow this up, you can use the ABCDE-method for detection of risky spots. Read our article on melanoma symptoms to learn everything about this method. In short, it means that you look out for moles based on specific symptoms:
- Asymmetrical – Melanomas are distinctly asymmetrical
- Border – melanomas have uneven borders
- Colours – melanomas will contain at least two distinct colours
- Diameter – melanomas are bigger than ¼ inch across
- Enlargement – melanomas grow in size over time
Do you worry about a certain mole? Use the SkinVision app to do an instant check for melanoma skin cancer risk.