Queenslanders are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from melanoma than other Australians, a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has found.
According to the Skin cancer in Australia report released today, the state has the highest incidence and mortality rates of melanoma nationally, based on estimates to 2016 and trends over time.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said almost 13,300 new cases of melanoma are likely to be diagnosed in Australia in 2016, with about 1800 people dying from the disease, whereby Queensland accounts for a disproportionately high number of cases relative to its population size.
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“Queensland’s melanoma incidence and mortality rates far exceeded rates in all other jurisdictions nationally,” Ms Clift said. “The report found in 2005-2009 Queensland had the highest age-standardised incidence rate of melanoma at 67 cases per 100,000 people. In 2008-2012, 7.5 people per 100,000 died from melanoma in Queensland – the highest rate nationally.
“Due to an ageing and increasing population, rates of skin cancer are expected to increase nationally for some time yet, with higher rates among older Australians and males. This demonstrates the importance of regular skin checks throughout adulthood, so that skin cancer can be diagnosed early and treated effectively.”
Encouragingly, the report found the rate of melanoma for Australians under 40 has dropped significantly, from 13 cases per 100,000 people in 2002 to about nine in 2016.
“Aligned with these findings, research shows younger Queenslanders are experiencing lower rates of skin cancer, due to greater vigilance in protecting their skin from harmful sun exposure,” Ms Clift said. “There can be no doubt that this is due to the success of long-term prevention and early detection campaigns, such as Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide. Our climate and demographics make us uniquely vulnerable to skin cancer, necessitating ongoing vigilance in sun protection.”
The report also found Queensland had a higher proportion of the total paid Medicare services related to melanoma (30 per cent) relative to its population size (20 per cent).
Queenslanders are urged to stay SunSmart during the next few months, with skin damage remaining a risk even in winter and spring. Queenslanders should Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunnies when outdoors to best reduce their risk of skin cancer.
More than 3600 Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and it is estimated that over 350,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are treated.