Victorian men on notice: watch out for melanoma this winter

Tuesday 23 May, 2017

As people cover up against the cold, SunSmart is asking all Victorians to keep an eye on their skin for suspicious spots – especially men.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. In Victoria alone, more than 1700 common skin cancers are treated each week, and at least seven people are diagnosed with melanoma each day.

Although low UV levels mean most Victorians won’t need sun protection, SunSmart Manager Heather Walker said the winter months also made it less likely people would notice unusual spots because they rugged up.

“While most UV damage happens in the summer months, a skin cancer can appear at any time of year,” Ms Walker said.

“The good news is most skin cancer can be successfully treated if it is caught at an early stage. That’s why it’s so important we all keep checking our skin regularly through the year.

“It’s especially important that men hear this message because we know melanoma diagnoses among men are 32% more common, and deaths from the disease are more than double those among women.”

The Victorian Cancer Registry shows 1,542 men and 1,170 women were diagnosed with melanoma in 2015. In the same year, 257 men and 122 women lost their lives to melanoma.

“Men spend more time outside during peak UV times, which puts them at higher risk of skin cancer,” Ms Walker said.

“Men are also less likely to see their doctor for treatment. This is really concerning because we know that if skin cancer is detected early it’s easier to treat.”

She said checking skin regularly would help Victorians get to know what looks normal for their skin – and what doesn’t.

“Skin cancer usually looks different to the skin around it, so keep an eye out for the ‘ugly duckling’ spot,” she said.

“This includes any newly formed spots, or existing spots that have changed in colour, size or shape.”

Skin cancers can appear anywhere on the body, including on skin that is not usually exposed to the sun, for example, the sole of the foot, underarms, groin and behind the ears. Ms Walker said asking a partner, or using mirrors, can help people check areas of the skin they can’t see, such as their scalp or back.

“Skin cancer won’t wait for summer, and neither should you. If you have any doubt at all about a spot, the most important thing you can do is to see your doctor to get it checked as soon as you can.”

For more information on the signs of skin cancer visit

Skin cancer diagnoses and deaths, 2015

  Men Women All Victorians
Melanoma diagnoses 1542 1170 2712
Deaths from melanoma 257 122 379
Deaths from common skin cancer 95 42 137

Note to editors: Melanoma data sourced from Victorian Cancer Registry.
Common skin cancer data (basal and squamous cell carcinomas) sourced from Australian Bureau of Statistics

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