THE Cancer Council has issued an urgent sun safety warning after recent data showed skin cancer and sunburn were two of the top 10 reasons Australians visited their doctor.
The data*, released by Queensland Health in October 2016, shows consultations for skin cancer and sunburn were the ninth largest cause of GP visits in Australia.
More than 3600 people are diagnosed with melanoma in Queensland each year, and it is estimated that over 350,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are treated.
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Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the figures reinforced the need for Queenslanders to get more serious about sun safety.
“It’s concerning to see skin cancer and sunburn among the top 10 reasons that Australians are visiting their GPs every year,” Ms Clift said.
“Sunburn and the majority of skin cancers are preventable through taking care in the sun – it is vital for all Queenslanders to take sun safety more seriously.
“Many Queenslanders don’t realise their risk of skin damage and sunburn is still high as we head into cooler months – it’s imperative we don’t become complacent about being SunSmart.
“Sunburn is a serious sign of skin damage, which increases the risk of skin cancer. Queenslanders should avoid sunburn at all costs.
“Your lifetime tally of UV radiation exposure, together with the number of severe sunburns, increases your risk of skin cancer.
“Once skin damage occurs, it is impossible to reverse, which means sun protection is key to a cancer-free future.”
Cancer Council further warned that the symptoms of sunburn can be so severe that medical attention should be sought.
“First-degree sunburn is known as mild sunburn that reddens and inflames the skin – second-degree sunburn is a more serious reddening of the skin and water blisters,” Ms Clift said.
“Third-degree sunburn requires medical attention. You should see your doctor if you experience blistering, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or severe pain.”
Cancer Council has warned of the increased risks of sunburn and skin damage over holiday periods, with more Queenslanders spending time outdoors on public holidays.
“Queenslanders should make the most of the public holidays and enjoy the sunshine state – while staying SunSmart and protecting themselves from the sun,” Ms Clift said.
“Follow all five recommended sun protective behaviours – Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide – when the UV Index is three or above – which it is all year round in Queensland.”
Queensland locals can download the SunSmart app for free at sunsmart.com.au.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.