Message getting through

LYING sun-caked in baby oil for hours on end might have been the trend in the 70s, but today's generation has wisened up to the harsh reality of skin cancer.

A Medicare survey revealed skin cancer cases among young Australians continues to fall, proving the slip-slop-slap message is getting through.

Cancer Council New South Wales community engagement manager Rhian Paton-Kelly said the positive results were reflective of today's generation having grown up with such strong sun safety messages.

SUN SMART: Hannah Hogg and Emma Gray, both 7, get ready to play outside.
SUN SMART: Hannah Hogg and Emma Gray, both 7, get ready to play outside. Dave Noonan


"It's fantastic; when we look at the amount of schools now signed up to sun smart programs and are implementing best practices, it's huge," Ms Paton-Kelly said.

Some 90% of primary schools in the North Coast region apply sun safety into their curriculum and everyday operation.

"It's nice to see the campaigns having a good impact and that's why we start so early, so they learn these best practices from the start," Ms Paton-Kelly said.

The Medicare survey revealed an annual drop of 4% of skin cancer cases among people aged five to 24, 2% for those aged 25 to 34 and 1.5% for those up to age 45.

Ms Paton-Kelly said baby boomers were guilty of fobbing off sun safety measures for themselves, as they thought the damage had already been done, and there was nothing they could do about it.

"We do know that men over 50 are three times more likely to die of melanoma than anyone else and 70% of that age group is not using sunscreen because they never grew up wearing it - but they can still, and they need to, to prevent further damage," Ms Paton-Kelly said.

"Wearing broad-brimmed hats, sunscreen, standing in the shade, all those things can still prevent further cancers."

She said it was events like Relay for Life that helped raise money for research into cancer. To be able to see good results proved money was being well spent.

"The reason we can do this research is because of the support from communities like Grafton getting behind Relay for Life - so we truly thank you for that."

Skin cancer remains the number one cancer in Australia.

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