Why Does Australia Have Higher Skin Cancer Rates

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Australia with more than 434000 people diagnosed each year. Almost two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.

There are two main types of skin cancer – melanoma and non-melanoma.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It can grow and spread quickly and if not treated can be fatal.

Non-melanoma skin cancers are much more common than melanoma but are usually not life-threatening.

The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

People who are most at risk of developing skin cancer are those who have:

• fair or freckled skin that burns easily

• red or blond hair

• blue or green eyes

• a history of sunburn

• a lot of moles or unusual moles

• a family history of skin cancer

People who work outdoors or spend a lot of time outdoors are also at greater risk.

The best way to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun.

This means:

• wearing clothing that covers your skin

• wearing a hat that protects your face head neck and ears

• wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30

• seeking shade

• avoiding sun exposure during the middle of the day

If you are worried about skin cancer see your doctor. They can check your skin and if necessary refer you to a skin cancer clinic.

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