Older Queenslanders most at risk of skin cancer

Cancer Council is warning older Queenslanders to stay SunSmart and check their skin, with new research showing more older Queenslanders are being diagnosed with skin cancer than ever before.

New data shows around 1900 Queenslanders aged 50 to 80 are diagnosed with melanoma every year – about five people every day.

Cancer Council spokesperson Katie Clift said the median age for a melanoma diagnosis in Queensland was 61 years of age.

“Around 375 Queenslanders aged 60-64 are diagnosed with melanoma every year – the highest number of any age group in the State,” Ms Clift said.

“Queenslanders can mistakenly believe that protecting their skin is only important in childhood years – which isn’t the case.

“While it is imperative to protect our children’s skin, research shows that UV radiation from the sun can damage skin cells and increase the risk of skin cancer at any age.”

Ms Clift said unprotected exposure to UV radiation in later life could trigger already damaged skin cells to become cancerous.

“Skin cancer is related to a person’s total lifetime exposure to UV radiation and the pattern of exposure they have had.”

Cancer Council Queensland has urged Queenslanders over 50 to stay vigilant about being SunSmart and to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide every day, when the UV Index is three or above.

“It’s never too late to be SunSmart and protect your skin – use SPF30 or above broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, wear a broad-brimmed hat and seek shade when outdoors,” Ms Clift said.

“Early diagnosis is also vital.  The earlier that skin cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

“For this reason, it’s important to get to know your own skin, and to check it regularly.

“Get a partner or friend to help you check hard-to-see parts of your skin, like your back.

“If you see a new spot or a spot that changes in shape colour or size, or anything on your skin that you are concerned about, you should visit your GP immediately.”

More than 136,000 skin cancers are diagnosed in Queensland each year – including around 3,400 melanomas and 133,000 other skin cancers.

Sun protection is required when the UV Index is three or above. In Queensland, the UV Index is three or above all year round, so sun protection is required through every season.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171