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  • More sun smarts required, particularly for men

    20 November 2013

    Cancer Council SA is putting the spotlight on the importance of early detection of skin cancers following new South Australian research released today revealing that two in three men aged 45 and under are not regularly checking their skin.

    Findings from the 2012 South Australian Health Omnibus Survey shows that 66% of local males 45 years and under have not checked their skin in the past 12 months, while 39% of men over 45 have not undergone a check.

    This latest research comes on top of the most recent melanoma statistics indicating that men account for 69% of melanoma deaths in South Australia.

    This week is National Skin Cancer Action Week and Cancer Council SA is using the week to remind people to monitor their skin for changes so skin cancers are picked up early, while also protecting themselves whenever they are outdoors.

    Cancer Council SA, Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson, said that with summer on the doorstep, it is a timely reminder for everyone to regularly check their skin.

    “With the warmer weather now upon us, more focus will shift towards skin protection, but it is also important for people to monitor the health of their skin,” Professor Wilson said.

    “There is a higher incidence rate of melanoma in men and a higher number of deaths, and this new data confirms that local men are also less likely to check their skin regularly.

    “Many occupations and popular recreational activities that males are involved in are based outdoors which increases exposure to damaging UV radiation and skin cancer risk.

    “The message is simple - be vigilant about checking your skin because skin cancer caught early generally results in better treatment outcomes.

    “Always protect yourself when in the sun and ask your partner or a mate to check your back and anywhere else you can’t see yourself for skin changes.

    “Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and instilling SunSmart practices at an early age will go a long way to reducing the likelihood of developing skin cancer later in life.”

    42 year-old Jock Harvey, from Willunga, is one local male who has had a close call with a melanoma.

    “I was actually going to the Dermatologist for a different reason, when she saw a mole on my back and requested further tests,” Mr Harvey said.

    “It turned out it was a stage one melanoma and before I knew it I had it cut out by a surgeon.

    “I was in a bit of shock with it all because I thought I’d been quite sun smart over the years, but it is certainly better to have a scar than to have a funeral.

    “My advice to anyone is if you have anything on your skin you are not sure about, make the time to get it checked by a qualified professional.”

    Dermatologist, Dr Cathy Reid, said that this new data raised some important issues.

    “Early detection of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, is important and may just save your life,” Dr Reid said.

    “The earlier a skin cancer can be diagnosed the better the treatment outcomes. Look for changes in any new or existing spots, freckles or moles that are looking different in colour shape or size. 

    “I encourage everyone to check their skin regularly and to see their GP if they notice changes. Those people who are working outdoors or spend time in the sun as part of recreational pursuits need to be extra vigilant.”

    Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 is available for people to contact for information about all cancers.

     

    Findings from the 2012 South Australian Health Omnibus Survey:

     

     

    Skin checked in the last twelve months?

     

    Yes

    No

    Males (n=1490)

     

     

    45 and under

    34%

    66%

    Over 45

    61%

    39%

     

     

     

    Overall (n=3044)

     

     

    45 and under

    38%

    62%

    Over 45

    57%

    43%

     

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