By Yasmin Noone
Older Australians aged 65-plus are the most likely age group to develop a melanoma, while men aged 45 and over face more than double the risk of dying of melanoma than women of the same age.
These are just some of the conclusions from new skin cancer statistics and incidence projection,s released by Cancer Council Victoria this month in a bid to get all Australians to slip, slop, slap and wrap this summer.
According to the organisation, men aged 45 and older tend to receive a skin cancer diagnosis at a later stage than women and usuallyafter the cancer has spread.
And, the Cancer Council added, every day two men aged 45 or over die of melanoma, while over 65 per cent of melanoma cases get diagnosed in Australians aged 55 and over.
Cancer Council Victoria’s SunSmart manager, Jen Makin, said the figures are a cause for concern, even though overall skin cancer rates have declined in recent years.
“The fact that men are twice as likely as women to die of melanoma shows that they are not as good at protecting their skin in the sun and are presenting themselves to their GP at a later stage,” Ms Makin said.
“We know that some blokes think skin cancer can be cut out and it’s no big deal.
“But one damaged cell from that tan or sunburn can start a melanoma growing, which can quickly spread to your lung, liver or brain.”
There are currently 1,161 Victorian men diagnosed with melanoma, compared to 883 women. More than 215 Victorian men died in 2011 compared to just 105 women. And, although melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, around one-in-three cases in men occur on the back.
Extrapolating 2007 incidence rates, the organisation believes that melanoma in males will increase to about 74 cases diagnosed per 100,000 males in 2020, equating to approximately 10,780 cases.
The largest increase in rates for the male population is expected to occur in the 65-plus age group.
SunSmart – the skin cancer control program of Cancer Council – has recently launched a new radio campaign targeting “blokes” in light of the new figures.
“These ads remind blokes that skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and can be successfully treated, if found early.
“At any age, covering up and using sunscreen and checking your skin regularly can reduce your risk.
“We are also encouraging blokes to get familiar with their skin. Check for new moles, or changes in the shape, colour or size of the ones you already have. See your GP immediately if you notice any changes.”
Melanoma in females is also expected to increase slowly to about 45 new cases diagnosed per 100,000 females in 2020, equating to approximately 6,790 cases, with the largest increase in rates for females also expected in the senior age group.
“Enjoy the beach and the backyard barbeques but just to remember to ‘Slip’ on a shirt, ‘Slop’ on SPF, Slap on a broad brimmed hat, ‘Seek’ shade and ‘Slide’ on sunnies while they you’re at it.”
To find out how to prevent skin cancer, visit www.sunsmart.com.au/