18 November 2013
This week is National Skin Cancer Action Week and Cancer Council research released today shows Australians are at the same risk of being sunburnt at sporting venues as they are at the beach.
The findings, from Cancer Council’s most recent National Sun Protection Survey, shows sporting venues are clearly linked with sun damage with 22% of Australians at sports grounds and centres getting sunburnt, which is just as high as the percentage of Australians at the beach, local lake or river who got sunburnt (22%).
Other places where risk of sunburn was high included at public parks and gardens (12% of park visitors sunburnt), backyard pools (11% sunburnt) and at home or a friend’s place (10% sunburnt).
With the upgraded Adelaide Oval a hive of activity in the lead-up to the second Ashes Test (5 December), Cancer Council SA is using National Skin Cancer Action Week to remind people to protect themselves whenever they are outdoors, as well as monitor their skin for changes so skin cancers are picked up early.
Cancer Council SA, Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson, said that over the next three years, 44,000 Australians (40 a day) would be told they had the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma. Almost two in three would be men.
“The number of people diagnosed with skin cancer over the next three years exceeds the capacity of the Adelaide Oval crowd for the second Ashes Test (32,000) and only just falls short of the grounds’ long-term capacity of 50,000,” Professor Wilson said.
“Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and this latest research highlights that people need to be just as vigilant when participating or attending sporting events, as they are when down at the beach.
“The ‘slip, slop, slap, seek and slide’ message extends well beyond the beach.
“We encourage people to keep a close eye on UV levels and to protect their skin whenever it is 3 or above. UV damages our skin and this damage lasts a lifetime, increasing the risk of developing skin cancer, melanoma being the most dangerous.”
Dr Patricia Lowe, Dermatologist and Honorary Secretary, Australasian College of Dermatologists, said that the earlier a skin cancer was detected, the better the outcome in terms of complete removal and survival rate.
“Many Australians are under the impression that all skin cancers are easily treated, and most are, but only if picked up early,” Dr Lowe said.
“Too often I see patients who had noticed something unusual on their skin yet didn’t seek advice soon enough. National Skin Cancer Action Week serves as a timely reminder to all Australians to check their skin now and keep a close eye on it year-round.”
Michael Howson, 27, of Wayville, is looking forward to the second Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval in just under three weeks, however is going to be prepared for the full day out in the sun.
“It’s going to be a great experience at the new-look oval, however I do not want the day soured by getting sunburnt,” Michael said.
“Even with a seat undercover, I am aware that I could still get burnt in the shade if I don’t protect my skin.
“It is easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to reapply the sunscreen, however I won’t be making this mistake again.”
Australian test cricket captain and Cancer Council SunSmart Ambassador, Michael Clarke, said two of the things Australia was most famous for were cricket and skin cancer.
“I’ve had experience with both,” he said. “I’m only 32 and unfortunately I’ve already had three skin cancers on my face. I’m lucky they were picked up early. We all know the slip, slop, slap, seek and slide message, but too many of us forget to keep an eye on our skin.”
Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 is available for people to contact for information about all cancers.