Young skin cancer survivor warns: Get sun smart in 2014

Gold Coasters are being urged to commit to sun safety and skin protection in 2014 to reduce the incidence of skin cancer.

Sally Roebuck, 23, was shocked to discover she had a stage one melanoma, despite having regular skin checks throughout her life.

‘‘As someone who has lighter skin, I’ve always been wary about my skin and skin cancer,’’ Ms Roebuck said.


‘‘My grandfather died as a result of complications related to stage-four melanoma so sun safety and skin checks are something my family is vigilant about.’’

Despite having melanoma in her family, Ms Roebuck said her skin check regime became less frequent during her cash strapped university years.

‘‘I can remember when I would visit home on my university breaks my mum would always ask if I had a particular mole on my leg checked,’’ she said.

‘‘Eventually I did go and get it checked by my general practitioner who referred me immediately to a dermatologist who removed the mole an hour later.

‘‘The mole turned out to be a stage one melanoma so I had to have my skin checked every three months for the first two years and now every four months.

‘‘I now have a 15 cm scar on my right thigh. I’ve never been sun baking and I avoid the sun when I can.

‘‘I know how lucky I am that my melanoma was caught early and I would encourage others to be smart when it comes to sun safety.’’

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the UV index is three or more every day of the year in Queensland, so it is vitally important Queenslanders protect themselves.

“Tragically, skin cancer claims more than 365 lives each year in Queensland – one life every single day.  Yet it is preventable,” he said.

“Sun exposure is responsible for 99 per cent of non-melanoma skin cancer and 96 per cent of melanoma, yet the message still isn’t getting through.

“This year I would urge everyone to make an effort to be sun safe and have a skin check – it may just save your life.”

Cancer Council Queensland’s Katie Clift said Queenslanders needed to be SunSmart as part of their daily routine.

“Sun protection in Queensland is vital for all seasons, especially summer, when Ultra Violet Radiation is its most intense,” Ms Clift said.

“Queenslanders should look out for the SunSmart UV Alert which appears on the weather page of most daily newspapers and on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

“If you have a lesion that doesn’t heal, or a mole that has suddenly appeared, changed in size, thickness, shape, colour or has started to bleed, ask your doctor for a skin examination. Treatment is more likely to be successful if skin cancer is discovered early.”

You can protect yourself from UV radiation by:
1. Seeking shade when possible
2. Wearing sun safe clothing
3. Wearing a broad-brimmed hat
4. Wearing sunglasses to protect eyes
5. Applying SPF 30+ or higher broad spectrum sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and reapplying every two hours.