Almost half of all childhood melanoma cases in Australia were diagnosed in Queensland over the past decade, new figures from CCQ’s Cancer Research Centre show.
Data from the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry found that 96 children aged 0-14 were diagnosed with melanoma in Australia over the 10 years between 2004 and 2013.
Although rare, the incidence rate of childhood melanoma in Queensland is more than double compared to Australia – 5.4 per million per year, compared to 2.3 per million per year respectively.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said while more Queensland children were diagnosed, rates of childhood melanoma were decreasing nationally, including in Queensland.
“We have seen a sharp decrease in the number of childhood melanoma cases in Australia since 1996 – a total decrease of 71 per cent between 1996 and 2013,” Ms Clift said.
“The decrease is consistent with the introduction of skin cancer prevention campaigns in Australia, including Slip, Slop, Slap in the 1980s.
“Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world – and the highest rate of childhood melanoma nationally.
“Exposure in childhood increases the risk of skin cancer later in life, so it’s vital that children are taught healthy SunSmart habits from a young age.”
The latest figures show more than half a million children are sunburnt in Queensland every year and only about 1 in 20 Queenslanders protect themselves ‘in five ways’ each summer, according to the guidelines.
“We recommend Queenslanders abide by all five sun protective recommendations – Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunnies when out and about,” Ms Clift said.
“You can’t see or feel UV – so it’s important to keep updated with real UV Index levels on summer days via the free Cancer Council SunSmart app.
“Whenever the UV Index is three or above, sun protection is required in Queensland.
“Even in the shade, UV can reflect from surfaces such as sand, glass, brick and concrete, so still use a hat, clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses – and reapply sunscreen every two hours.”
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.
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