Concern over rural melanoma rates leads to a call for improved sun protection practices

Friday 16 December, 2022

New Cancer Council Victoria research confirms that men aren't using enough sun protection, putting them at risk of developing melanoma, the fifth most common cancer in Victoria.

The 2022 Summer Sun Protection Survey (Life in Australia™) shows that just over a third of Victorian men (35%) regularly use sunscreen and just over half (51%) of Victorian men reported often or always seeking shade to protect themselves from the sun when the UV level is 3 or above.

That’s why SunSmart is calling on men to use all five forms of sun protection to reduce their risk of developing skin cancer, particularly those in regional Victoria where higher rates of melanoma were diagnosed compared to those in major cities.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Head of SunSmart, Emma Glassenbury says SunSmart’s current campaign is putting the call out to Victorian men to protect their skin by using sun protection to ensure they are around for their family's future.

“Males are twice as likely to die from melanoma than women. We want Victorian men to protect their skin by using all five forms of sun protection,” said Ms Glassenbury.

“Just as you would protect your family, property or belongings, using sun protection including protective clothing, sunglasses, hats, sunscreen and seeking shade are the essential steps every man should take to protect his health against skin cancer and to be there for their loved ones.”

Data published last week by the Victorian Cancer Registry at Cancer Council Victoria, as part of its annual publication, Cancer in Victoria, 2021 showed melanoma diagnoses are 44% higher in people living in regional Victoria compared to people living in major cities.

General Practitioner, Dr Patrick Nzegwu says as a resident in regional Victoria, he knows how much time the community spend outdoors over summer and is concerned that people aren't using all five forms of sun protection to protect their health against skin cancer.

“It is time to protect you and your family's future by covering up when you head outside and the UV is 3 or above to reduce your risk of a skin cancer,” Dr Nzegwu said.

“It is vital that people take skin cancer prevention seriously, don’t be complacent this summer and follow SunSmart’s slip, slop, slap, seek and slide every time you leave the house when the UV is 3 or above,” Dr Nzegwu said.

Primarily caused by over exposure of ultraviolet radiation (UV), melanoma can mostly be prevented if people use all five forms of sun protection. UV radiation cannot be seen or felt, so it is impossible to know when UV radiation is damaging your skin until it is too late.

SunSmart recommends, when UV levels are 3 or higher, people follow all five forms of sun protection which include:

  • Slip on clothing that covers as much skin as possible
  • Slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that shades the face, ears and neck
  • Seek shade
  • Slide on sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard for UV protection.

To protect yourself against UV radiation, make sure you check your local UV level before you head out the door and check the sun protection times. You can find this information on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website and the free SunSmart app.

Learn more about UV and sun protection at www.sunsmart.com.au.

-ENDS-

 

About the research

The 2022 Summer Sun Protection Survey (Life in Australia™) was conducted by the Social Research Centre on the January 2022 wave of the probability-based online panel, Life in Australia™. The survey was funded by the Cancer Councils of Australia. In total, 3,194 respondents, representing Australian adults aged 18 years and over, completed the survey between 17 and 31 January 2022. There were 734 respondents in the Victorian sample, including 324 men. All survey estimates that are weighted to Australian population benchmarks.

References

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Cancer Data in Australia.

Social Research Centre. (2022). 2022 Summer Sun Protection Survey (Life in Australia ™) - Victorian Survey Tables. Melbourne, Victoria.