Australia remains the melanoma skin cancer capital of the world according to a new global report released to coincide with World Melanoma Month.
The report ‘2020 Melanoma Skin Cancer Report: Stemming the Global Epidemic’ is based on data from the World Health Organisation.
According to the report, there were 14,260 cases of melanoma diagnosed in Australia in 2018, translating to 1,602 deaths. It predicts the number of cases of melanoma in Australia will rise by 16 per cent to 16,532 in 2025, with deaths increasing by 19 per cent to 1,913.
“The predictions by WHO are shocking and must serve as a wake-up call to show that action is needed to tackle the global melanoma epidemic,” said Victoria Beedle, CEO of Melanoma Patients Australia, who is also a member of the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy that co-commissioned the report with Euromelanoma.
Professor Mark Smithers AM, Melanoma Patients Australia medical advisor, said, “Despite a widespread understanding of the link between UV exposure and melanoma, the research shows that knowledge is not translating into action. 92% of people recognised that sun exposure can cause health problems, but only 18% always protect their skin from the sun and in fact an Australian study shows that 20% of people already diagnosed with melanoma did not adapt sun safety practice.”
Ms Beedle added, “We are really worried that during this period of COVID-19 restrictions that people are spending way more time outdoors in the garden and exercising and that there is another invisible enemy called UV that we all need to protect against. Melanoma is one of the few cancers where we can definitively identify its cause and that means it is largely preventable. Predictions are just that, predictions; but to stop them becoming a reality, we need action – now.
“The ‘2020 Melanoma Skin Cancer Report’ demonstrates that we need to change mindsets and behaviours. It’s time to abandon beauty standards that say having a tan is sexy. It can also be deadly. Everyone should be protecting their skin when the UV is more than 3 and self-checking their skin on a monthly basis.”