Skin Cancer hits hard for regional and rural Australians. A new campaign brought to you by MPA and MASC Trials, funded by Cancer Australia
With rates of skin cancer on the rise among those living in rural and regional areas, a unique campaign is being launched urging 60+ Australians to complete regular self-skin checks to reduce the toll of one of Australia’s deadliest cancers – melanoma.
Melanoma Patients Australia and Melanoma and Skin Cancer Trials are launching Self-Skin Checks, No Regrets. This Australian first campaign, targets Australians 60 years and older in regional and rural areas and aims to encourage them to do regular self-skin checks to find unusual spots, moles, or lesions, and to get online for the latest resources, patient stories and skin check guides.
In 2021, an estimated 8,000 Australians in regional areas were diagnosed with melanoma, and this is expected to rise dramatically to over 11,000 annually by 2030.
The campaign is targeting regional and rural communities and particularly men over 60, who are twice as likely as women to die from melanoma. The Cancer Council shows this can be attributed to their attitudes towards the sun and higher levels of sun safety complacency.
Skin cancer can occur at any age, however, many older people living in regional and rural areas have an increased risk of melanoma due to longer unprotected UV radiation exposure because of the amount of time they spend outdoors, as well as a history of burning during childhood.
Melanoma Patients Australia CEO Victoria Beedle says “Empowering high risk older Australians in rural and regional areas, with the right knowledge to act early, will help reduce melanoma incidence for this often-forgotten community and significantly improve melanoma survival rates.”
According to a recent Cancer Australia report, COVID-19 lockdowns have created a barrier for Aussies, particularly those living remotely in accessing their GP or hospital for routine and follow up appointments which is contributing to an increase in skin cancer rates. The report identified a 14% reduction in the number of Medicare services utilised for melanoma checks in 2020, highlighting how critical skin checks are for saving lives.
The good news is research reveals more than two out of three (69%) rural Australians have detected their own skin cancer. When found early at stage 1, survival outcomes improve significantly, (99% at stage 1 vs 26% at stage 4).
According to A/Prof Victoria Mar, Director of the Victorian Melanoma Service, “While most of us know sun exposure is a high-risk factor for skin cancer, it’s still not widely acknowledged that blistering sunburns at a young age can increase melanoma risk by 80%. This initiative is incredibly important because there is little awareness about the importance of checking skin at an older age, with current skin cancer campaign messaging aimed at younger generations.”
“Asking a partner or friend to help fully check the skin is critical to identify and detect early signs that may be hard to see. Online educational resources, particularly for those living remotely, also make it much easier to identify unusual spots, moles, or lesions. You can also learn about skin cancer and find support networks to ask the right questions,” she adds.
Good health information can help you make informed decisions. Relying on incorrect information can put you at risk and be harmful to your health. Not all medical information available online is evidence-based – and it can be hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction.
Please download and share this infographic which summarises the key regional and rural statistics and facts for this Self-Skin Checks, No Regrets Campaign.
Listen to Dr Scott Temple (Regional GP) discussing skin cancer and the importance of self skin checks in regional and rural Australia.
Because melanoma is particularly serious, you should be familiar with the signs to look for. The ABCDE of melanoma can help you detect it early.
Check your skin once a month for any changes or suspicious looking lesions.
Always protect your skin when the UV level is 3 or more.