LETTER: Skin cancer rates improve, but vigilance needed
READERS may have seen the news this week that Australia no longer has the highest per capita rates of invasive melanoma in the world - in large part thanks to Cancer Council's 30 year Slip, Slop, Slap campaign.
Australia now has 48 cases of melanoma per 100,000 people compared to 50 cases per 100,000 in New Zealand.
While this is good news, it is not cause for complacency, with Queensland still, by far, the skin cancer capital of the world.
Queensland has a melanoma incidence rate of 71 cases per 100,000 people (for the years 2009-2013), vastly exceeding rates in all other jurisdictions nationally and internationally.
Our climate and demographics make us uniquely vulnerable to skin cancer, necessitating ongoing vigilance in sun protection.
In fact, melanoma incidence is expected to rise steeply among older people for some time yet, due to damage done earlier in life, before our Slip, Slop, Slap campaign began.
We are, however, seeing ongoing decreases in younger age groups - with rates of melanoma stabilising or declining among younger generations.
There can be no doubt that this is due to the success of prevention and early detection campaigns, such as Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide.
Ending Queensland's tragic record as the skin cancer capital of the world remains a top priority for Cancer Council Queensland.
Queenslanders should Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF 30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on wrap-around sunnies when outdoors.
Queenslanders can find more information about being SunSmart, at cancerqld.org.au.
PROFESSOR JEFF DUNN
Chief Executive Officer
Cancer Council Queensland