Skin cancer update: from the North to the South Australia

Australia is no stranger to skin cancer. In fact, Australians have been well aware of the dangerous implications of UV rays since before 1980, when Cancer Council’s SunSmart launched a health campaign with the slogan “Slip Slop Slap” to help change attitudes and behaviors associated with skin protection.
Skin cancer update

Despite the implementation of influential health interventions, and indications that they have had positive effects, skin cancer remains high among Australians.

So what are the numbers?

  • Every year, skin cancers in Australia account for around 80% of newly diagnosed cancers.
  • Annually, more than 434, 000 Australians are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers.
  • One person dies every six hours from melanoma.
  • Australia still has the highest melanoma incidence in the world.

An update from the North to the South

As skin cancer incidence is influenced by UV exposure, melanoma cases in Australia are more common in specific regions. How is that reflected in the different territories of the country?

  • People in Queensland and Western Australia face the highest risk of developing melanoma.
  • Followed by New South Wales, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Victoria and Northern Territory.
  • According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, cancer incidence in regional areas is significantly higher than in major cities. Sixty percent of these cases are due to melanoma.
  • Past studies have reflected higher mortality rates in individuals with melanoma of the skin who lived in inner or outer regional areas.

..now for some (slightly) good news

Although skin cancer mortality rates have increased since 2000, recent trends in Australia suggest a stabilization or slight decline in both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer incidence among individuals under the age of 45 – who were likely influenced by long-running public education campaigns and initiatives to reduce their UV radiation exposure.

In light of these numbers, Australian survival rates from melanoma are generally higher than in other countries due to a high proportion of thin lesions, higher awareness, and early detection. SkinVision has been launched in Australia to help raise awareness, and give each individual (including the regional areas) a simple tool to detect early signs of melanoma.

Download the SkinVision app to instantly assess risky moles and build your personal gallery for tracking over time.

Sources:

Erdmann F, Lortet-Tieulent J, Schüz J, Zeeb H, Greinert R, Breitbart EW, et al. International trends in the incidence of malignant melanoma 1953-2008–are recent generations at higher or lower risk?

Int J Cancer 2013 Jan 15;132(2):385-400 [Abstract available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22532371].

Olsen CM, Williams PF, Whiteman DC. Turning the tide? Changes in treatment rates for keratinocyte cancers in Australia 2000 through 2011.

J Am Acad Dermatol 2014 Mar 28 [Abstract available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24685358].

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2008.

Canberra, Australia: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australasian Association of Cancer Registries; 2008 [cited 2008 Dec 19] Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468196&tab=3.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Rural, regional and remote health: indicators of health status and determinants of health.

Canberra, Australia; 2008 Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468076.

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