Facts about skin cancer

Friday, November 21, 2003
Incidence and mortality rates: national
  • Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in Australia.
  • 8,300 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and 900 die of melanoma each year.
  • One in 23 males and one in 33 females in Australia will develop melanoma by the age of 75.
  • 270,000 cases of non-melanocytic skin cancers are diagnosed nationally each year.

Risk factors
  • Unprotected exposure to the sun in the first 15 years of life more than doubles the chances of getting skin cancer later in life.

Sun protection
  • Minimise time in the sun between 11am and 3pm (daylight saving time).
  • Use shade wherever you can including trees, shelters and umbrellas.
  • Slip! on a shirt made from tightly woven fabric, with sleeves and a high neck or collar and other clothing that covers the skin.
  • Slop! on a broad spectrum water resistant sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30+.
  • Slap! on a wide brimmed hat or legionnaire’s cap, that shades the face, neck and ears.
  • And don’t forget the sunglasses in a close fitting, wrap around style. Make sure they meet Australian Standard AS1067 offering 99% protection from UV rays.

Early detection
  • The earlier a skin cancer is detected the better the chance of successful treatment. Basal cell carcinomas and Squamous cell carcinomas are successfully treated in almost 100% of cases.
  • The five-year survival rate for melanoma is more than 90%.
  • Be on the look out for: any new spot or unusual freckle, mole, sunspot or unhealing sore; a spot that looks different from other spots around it; a spot that has changed colour, size or shape over a few weeks or months.
  • Consult your doctor if you have any of these signs.

For more information, visit the NSW Cancer Council.

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