Melanoma statistics are rising and the Cancer Council has issued this warning to Queenslanders: in 10 years the number of melanoma cases could rise by 42 per cent, if we don’t take sun protection more seriously.

It’s looked at data and examined trends to predict the number of people diagnosed with invasive melanoma in the state will climb to 5,100 a year in 2025. In 2013 there were 3,600 cases.

The organisation said in a statement that Queensland already has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. It also said one in 14 residents are likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime.

Recent data shows:

  • South-west Queensland has the highest incidence of melanoma: 78 melanomas per 100,000 people diagnosed with melanoma each year
  • The second highest is the Sunshine Coast: 76 melanomas per 100,000 people
  • The thirst highest is the Gold Coast: 74 melanomas per 100,000 people.

“While an expected increasing and ageing population remains a driver of predicted increase in new melanomas, sun protection measures continue to play a major role in preventing the disease,” spokesperson Nicole Border said.


Are we getting complacent?

The Cancer Council believe there’s an urgent need for Queenslanders to step up their slip, slop, slap game.

“Research shows that only 35 per cent of Queensland adults used sunscreen when exposed to the sun on weekends,” Ms Border said.

“However, the daily use of sunscreen could reduce the risk of melanoma by up to 75 per cent.”

The charity recommends five sun protective measures when outdoors to reduce cancer risk:

  •  Wear protective clothing that covers the skin
  •  Apply SPF 30 or above broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen
  •  Put on a broad-brimmed hat
  •  Stay in the shade as much as possible
  •  Use sunglasses to protect your eyes.

“Early detection is vital in improving survival rates. It is imperative that Queenslanders get to know their own skin. If you notice a new spot or lesion, or a spot or lesion change in shape, colour or size – visit your GP immediately,” Ms Border explained.

Protecting children against melanoma is vital

The number of cases among young people is also increasing. Melanoma is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for people aged between 15 and 39. It is also the most common cause of cancer death for people aged 20 to 39.

Melanoma Institute Australia chief executive Carole Renouf told The Courier-Mail intense intermittent exposure leading to sunburn before puberty can put children at risk.

“It’s not just your overall cumulative exposure to radiation that enhances your risk of melanoma. This is what people have always thought,” she said.

“That’s still the case, but very particularly, it’s the intense intermittent exposure leading to sunburn that is the biggest issue.

“That’s the kind of thing people tend to do on their holiday, their Christmas holiday when they are less wary and the family is in the sun all day.

“While sun exposure is the most common environmental risk factor for melanoma, it can appear at any age and on any area of the body – not only those exposed to the sun.”