Most Victorians in the dark about men's high melanoma risk

Wednesday 12 September, 2018


A new survey shows most Victorians are unaware of men’s high melanoma risk, despite men being more likely to be diagnosed with, and die from, the disease.

Over a five-year period, 7,144 Victorian men were diagnosed with melanoma and 1,033 died. These deaths are double those among women (502 for the same time period).

But a Cancer Council Victoria survey has found just 27% of Victorian adults can correctly identify melanoma kills more men than women in Victoria.

SunSmart Manager Heather Walker said the number of men affected by melanoma was alarming.

"Far too many men are being diagnosed with and dying from melanoma, and most Victorians are not even aware this is happening," Ms Walker said.

"Using good sun protection and checking your own skin regularly for suspicious spots can help prevent melanoma diagnoses and deaths. So it’s crucial men know their risk and start taking action."

Ms Walker said men’s higher melanoma diagnoses were partly the result of spending more time outdoors than women, with less sun protection.

"Every time you’re outdoors unprotected in the sun, your skin can be damaged by UV radiation. This damage adds up over your lifetime to increase your melanoma risk."

Ms Walker said men could help reduce this risk by building more sun protection habits into their daily routine.

"Men are usually good at putting on a hat, but it tends to be a baseball cap, which leaves most of the skin on your ears, face and neck exposed. It’s an easy swap to upgrade to a broad-brim, bucket or legionnaire’s hat.

"Making sunscreen part of your daily routine is also an easy step – once in the morning and then every couple of hours if you’re outdoors. Find a formula you like and feel comfortable using, and start taking it with you, everywhere."

Early detection is also key to preventing deaths from melanoma, which can usually be successfully treated if it is caught at an early stage.

"Getting a suspicious spot checked just might save your life," Ms Walker said.

"So alongside sun protection, we want men to get to know their skin and go see their doctor as soon as they notice a new spot or a spot that’s changed in size, colour or shape."

Ms Walker also urged men not to wait for summer to think about sun protection, as UV radiation reaches damaging levels throughout spring.

"We can’t see or feel UV radiation, but it can be just as damaging on a cool or cloudy day as a warm day with blue skies.

"Don’t wait for summer. Get your sun protection gear sorted now and check the sun protection times each day so you know when to use it.

"For the best defence, use a combination of covering clothing, sunscreen, a broad-brimmed hat, shade and sunglasses."

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About the data

The 2018 Summer Sun Protection Survey was a representative cross-sectional survey of Victorian adults. In total, 538 Victorians aged 18 and over completed the survey online or by telephone in January-February 2018.

Melanoma kills more men than women in Victoria



(correct response)


Didn’t answer or didn’t know

% Victorian adults





Melanoma statistics sourced from Cancer Council’s Victorian Cancer Registry 2012-2016


Melanoma diagnoses

Melanoma deaths










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