DESPITE ongoing awareness campaigns, Queensland still has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.
Cancer Council Queensland reports approximately 3,000 melanoma and 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are being diagnosed across the state each year.
The Gold Coast has the third highest rate in the State, with 460 cases diagnosed each year.
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Gold Coast cosmetic surgeon and skin cancer removal specialist Dr Dilip Gahankari says despite these statistics, he still performs too many skin cancer removal surgeries for people who do too little, too late.
“I think people see the campaigns and know we are addressing the issue so they think it is somewhat under control, but that just isn’t the case,” Dr Gahankari says.
“While we are certainly making headway and there is a greater level of awareness, there is still so much complacency around sun protection, particularly here on the Gold Coast.
Dr Dilip said despite an improvement in survival rates (93 per cent melanoma survival rate five years after diagnosis) the figures are still cause for alarm, with all Queenslanders, no matter where they lived, needing to stay vigilant about being SunSmart.
“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 a melanoma.
“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 – you need to take action immediately.”
Dr Gahankari says that what is most disturbing about the rising rates of skin cancer in Queensland is that so much of it is preventable.
“There are really simple steps to follow; such as covering up with protective clothing, wearing a hat and sunscreen, and avoiding prolonged periods of sun exposure,” Dr Gahankari says.
“Regular skin cancer checks with your GP are also essential. These skin checks can detect any cancerous developments early, thereby increasing survival rates, and can also highlight any danger spots on your skin.”