National Skin Cancer Action Week

November 13, 2020

15 – 21st November is National Skin Cancer Action Week and that’s an important reminder for all Australians to use sun protection and regularly check their skin.

  • Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, including melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
  • Every year in Australia skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers.
  • 2 in 3 Australians are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by the age of 70.
  • Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australia, with a death every five hours due to melanoma.

The good news is that melanoma is often identifiable at an early stage where simple treatment can result in a complete cure.

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors that increase the chances of melanoma, including:

  • fair skin
  • high mole count
  • family history
  • pattern of sunburns throughout life, especially during childhood.

Most skin cancers can be prevented by using sun protection:

  • slip on sun-protective clothing
  • slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
  • slap on a broad-brimmed hat
  • seek shade
  • slide on sunglasses.

Try to become familiar with the look of your skin, so you can pick up any changes that might suggest a skin cancer. Look for:

  • any crusty, non-healing sores
  • small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
  • new spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months.

If you notice a strange new mole on your skin or an old mole that’s started changing, it’s important to see your GP right away. Some people at higher risk require regular, planned skin assessments.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your GP will conduct a skin check using a magnifying instrument called a dermoscope. If they find anything concerning, they may recommend cryotherapy or other non-surgical treatments, or biopsy or referral to a dermatologist. If  you require surgical treatment, you will need to make a subsequent appointment.