THE Gold Coast has been named one of the worst when it comes to residents being diagnosed with skin cancer.
The Cancer Council’s Atlas of Cancer in Queensland shows that while some coastal areas have higher rates of melanoma, there is variation among regions – with populations in more advantaged areas tending to have higher rates of the disease.
Figures show South West Queensland has the highest incidence of melanoma (76 people per 100,000 diagnosed each year), followed by the Sunshine Coast (71 people per 100,000) and the Gold Coast (70 people per 100,000).
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Central Queensland recorded the lowest incidence of melanoma (57 people per 100,000 diagnosed each year), followed by Mackay (60 people per 100,000).
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the research was a reminder for all Queenslanders, no matter where they lived, to stay vigilant about being SunSmart.
“Typically, people may expect to see higher skin cancer rates in coastal areas, with Queenslanders opting for outdoor lifestyles at beaches, rivers and national parks,” Ms Clift said.
“This research reminds all Queenslanders that no matter where they live in our Sunshine State, they have to remain vigilant about being SunSmart.
“Sun exposure and sunburn are strong predictors of melanoma, no matter where you live in Queensland.
“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.
“Queenslanders with fair skin, skin that burns easily, the presence of many moles, and a family history of skin cancer are at greater risk of developing melanoma.
“Where a melanoma is diagnosed may not necessarily reflect where the damage was done, and there may also be differences in diagnostic practices.
“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.”
More than 40,000 Queenslanders are alive today after a melanoma diagnosis. The five-year relative survival rate is nearly 93 per cent.
Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Around 3,000 melanoma and 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed across the state each year.
Sun protection is required when the UV Index is 3 and above. In Queensland, the UV Index is 3 and above all year round, so Cancer Council Queensland encourages sun protection through every season.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.