SunSmart Victoria launches new skin cancer campaign in Bendigo

Friday 19 April, 2024

Cancer Council Victoria and SunSmart launches its new campaign in Bendigo as the community comes together to celebrate survivors, remember loved ones, and fight back against cancer at the annual Relay For Life event.

SunSmart’s early skin cancer detection campaign, funded by the Victorian Department of Health, will run for eight weeks in the Loddon Mallee region to urge people living in the region to check their skin and to see a GP should they notice any changes.

The early detection of skin cancer saves lives as most skin cancers can be cured if found early, said Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper AM.

“We’re thrilled to be in Bendigo to launch the new early detection campaign and to support those in communities in the Loddon Mallee region, to know the signs of skin cancer and to see their GP as soon as they spot anything unusual.

“More than 70% of skin cancers are found by people themselves or by their loved ones. Knowing your skin and checking it regularly will give you and your loved one’s peace of mind, as the sooner skin cancer is found, the easier it is to treat,” said Mr Harper.

The latest Victorian Cancer Registry (VCR) data shows regional Victorians are 47% more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than those who live in major cities.

To address the high rates of melanoma, SunSmart has provided training and equipment to support the early detection of skin cancer to more than 50 GPs in the region through its Dermoscopy for Victorian General Practice Program.

“Through the SunSmart program, Victorians living in the region have greater access to GPs trained and equipped to detect and treat skin cancer early, helping to reduce both the personal and financial burden of skin cancer,” Mr Harper said.

Premier of Victoria and Local Member for Bendigo East, the Hon. Jacinta Allen said she is pleased to see a skin cancer campaign targeting regional Victorians who are often exposed to the sun’s UV in their daily lives.

“People in our region have a unique outdoor lifestyle; between work and leisure, life is lived and enjoyed outdoors.

“From time to time, we all need reminders to look after our health. It’s fantastic to see locals in the Bendigo community be reminded to check their skin and be supported to take immediate action with local GPs trained in early detection and ready to take appointments,” the Premier said.

Local GP, Dr Thomas Dewar, who has completed the Dermoscopy for Victorian General Practice Program, said regional GPs are here to support you should you notice changes to your skin.

“We know skin cancer is not always front of mind when you visit your GP, but we want to help you find skin cancer early. Potential skin cancer signs can become visible in the form of new spots, change in colour or shape of existing spots.

“If you spot anything unusual or changing, see your GP and we’ll be happy to check it out for you. In many cases it will be nothing to worry about, but if it is skin cancer, treatment will be easier and more successful if we see you earlier,” said Dr Dewar.

SunSmart’s campaign launched at the Relay for Life Bendigo, which in 2024 is celebrating 25 years of raising vital funds to increase cancer survival rates. In that time, the Bendigo community has raised more than $3.8 million dollars at its annual event.

“We’re proud to be in Bendigo today to celebrate the incredible commitment from the community to raise funds and raise community awareness of early detection of skin cancer to save more lives in regional Victoria,” Mr Harper said.

The SunSmart early detection campaign is running until 1 June 2024, and the Dermoscopy for Victorian General Practice Program, is funded by the Victorian Department of Health.

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