A newly released melanoma hotspot map has highlighted the danger of overexposure to UV radiation from the sun, with 23 of the 25 melanoma hotspots in regional NSW.
Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said with summer now upon us, the map serves as a timely reminder to take simple protective measures when outdoors.
“Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, yet many of us are still not doing enough to reduce our skin cancer risk,” Mrs Taylor said.
“The melanoma hotspot map shows Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley and Byron local government areas (LGAs) in northern NSW have the State’s highest burden of melanoma.”
Mrs Taylor said Coffs Harbour, Sutherland Shire, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Tweed and Bathurst LGAs, are also in the State’s top 10.
“This should be a real reminder to our regional communities, if you step outside, whether it’s at the beach or for a walk to the shops or along the river, apply sunscreen, wear a hat and sunglasses, cover up and seek shade,” Mrs Taylor said.
Melanoma is the most common cancer among young Australians and the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in all Australians.
95 per cent of melanoma and 99 per cent of non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun, and can be prevented with proper sun protection.
Professor Tracey O’Brien, Chief Cancer Officer for NSW and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW says everyone is at risk of developing melanoma, regardless of where they live.
“Whether you live in Ballina or Bondi, if you step outside without taking skin protection measures, you run the risk of developing melanoma,” Professor O’Brien said.
“Melanoma can be lethal and we need to do everything possible to protect our skin.”
Michael Knight, 52, from Lismore was first diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 24. He has had seven surgeries to remove melanomas, lymph nodes and adrenal glands, with the most recent surgery earlier this year.
“My initial melanoma was quite small, not raised at all. My sister in law noticed it before I did. My message to everyone is protect yourself, and also, get regular skin checks.”
Cancer Institute NSW recently launched a powerful new skin cancer campaign targeting the nearly 70 per cent of 18-24 year olds who fail to protect their skin outdoors.
The campaign focuses on the invisible but potentially lethal threat of UV radiation, illustrated through the use of arrows penetrating unprotected skin.
The most effective defence against UV radiation is to follow five key steps before leaving the house: Slip on protective clothing, Slop on SPF50 sunscreen, Slap on a wide brimmed hat, Seek shade, and Slide on sunglasses. Sunscreen should always be re-applied every two hours.