Take charge of your skin's health: SunSmart calls on Victorian men to check their skin

Wednesday 14 June, 2023

SunSmart is issuing a crucial call to action for all Victorians, especially men, to prioritise their skin health by conducting regular skin checks following new data which shows less than a quarter of Victorian men check their skin.

The 2022 Summer Sun Protection Survey (Life in Australia™) showed that only 19% of Victorian men surveyed had checked their own skin in the past year.

Health experts warn that without men checking their skin for changes, dangerous skin cancers like melanoma can go unnoticed. The 2021 Victorian Cancer Registry (VCR) reported over 2,800 melanomas diagnosed were in 2021, with over 58% (1,650) diagnosed in men.1

The Victorian Cancer Registry has also found melanoma was estimated to be the second highest missed form of cancer, following the coronavirus pandemic.1

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper AM says that with melanoma, timing and early detection is critical, especially for our missing melanoma cases.

“Melanoma can spread throughout the body - faster than people would think, so the earlier this type of cancer is found, the better our chances of treating it,” Mr Harper said.

“We know that men are twice as likely to lose their life to melanoma compared to women, because of lifestyle habits including spending more time outdoors but also being less likely to seek medical advice if they notice changes. That is why we are urging men to check their skin and take action, " Mr Harper said.

This urgent reminder from Cancer Council Victoria is part of SunSmart Victoria’s latest ‘Save your skin” campaign, funded by the Victorian Department of Health, which aims to heighten awareness and empower Victorians to take charge of their skin’s health.

Victorian Dermatologist Dr Edward Upjohn from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has been working in this space for over 15 years and provides specialist training to general practitioners (GPs) to identify and diagnose skin cancer.

“I know that general practice and family doctors would have skin cancer on their radar and want to support their patients to find this type of cancer early. For anyone that notices changes to their skin like new spots, changes in colour size or appearance, the first step is to call your local practice and book an appointment,” Dr Upjohn said.

“In men, melanoma is more commonly found on their back and other parts of their trunk which requires people to proactively check that area using a mirror or getting a partner or friend to check. When you book an appointment with a GP (General Practitioner), you can also ask them to check your back and any specific spots you have noticed changes in as well, your GP will also check the rest of your skin including your scalp, another site where skin cancers may not be noticed,” Dr Upjohn said.

“It is vital we find the missed melanomas following the pandemic and continue to build everyone's knowledge of how to check your skin for cancer signs to save more lives,” Dr Upjohn said.

If you would like to learn more about how to check your skin for skin cancer or for sun protection advice visit www.sunsmart.com.au/about-sunsmart/media-and-communications/sunsmart-campaigns/save-your-skin.

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About SunSmart

Jointly funded by Cancer Council Victoria and the Victorian Government, SunSmart is one of the longest running – and most successful – skin cancer prevention and early detection programs in the world. The program is dedicated to reducing skin cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality.

About Life in Australia™ survey

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. The Victorian sample consisted of 736 adults aged 18 years and over, who completed the survey between 17 and 31 January 2022. All results have been weighted to be as representative as possible of the Australian population.

Proportion of Victorian adults who have checked their own skin in the last year^ (%)  

 
Overall 
Gender 
Question: In the last year, have you or another person (other than your doctor) checked your entire body, including your back, for skin cancer? 
n=736 
Male 

(n=330) 

Female 

(n=397 

Yes 
19 
19 
20 
No  
81 
81 
80 

1. Victorian Cancer Registry. Cancer in Victoria: Statistics & Trends Report 2021. Cancer Council Victoria: Melbourne, Victoria, 2022.Cancer-in-Victoria-statistics-and-trends-2021.pdf (cancervic.org.au)