Around 30 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma every day and more than 1,200 die from the disease each year.
However, skin cancer, unlike many cancers, is largely preventable.
Most Australians need sun protection when the UV index is three or above. The UV index is an international standard measurement of the strength of UV radiation from the sun at a particular place on a particular day. UV levels are low in the early morning as the sun comes up, gradually increasing to a peak around the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest, and then decreasing slowly as the sun gets lower in the sky.
In Queensland, the UV index is usually 3 or higher throughout the year, even in winter so sun protection is needed daily.
Who gets skin cancer?
Anyone can get skin cancer, even people who have skin of color. However, those who are at greater risk include people:
- with fair skin, fair or red hair and blue eyes with a large number of moles on their skin
- who have spent a lot of time outdoors
- who have spent a lot of time actively tanning or have used solariums
- who have had a previous diagnosis of skin cancer or a family history of skin cancer
- with a history of severe or blistering sunburns.
Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
The following skin cancer prevention tips are from Cancer Council Queensland.
Slip on protective clothing that:
- covers as much skin as possible, for example, shirts with long sleeves and high necks/collars
- is made from close weave materials such as cotton, polyester/cotton and linen
- is dark in colour to absorb UV radiation (white and lighter colours reflect UV radiation onto skin)
- if used for swimming, is made from materials such as lycra, which stays sun protective when wet
Slop on SPF30 or higher sunscreen that is:
- broad spectrum and water resistant
- applied liberally to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before going outside reapplied every two hours used with other forms of protection such as hats and shade
Slap on a hat that is:
- broad-brimmed and provides good protection for the face, nose, neck and ears, which are common sites for skin cancers (caps and visors do not provide adequate protection)
- made with closely woven fabric – if you can see through it, UV radiation will get through.
- worn with sunglasses and sunscreen to increase your level of protection
Seek shade by:
- making use of trees or built shade structures, or bring your own pop-up tent or umbrellas.
- making sure your shade structure casts a dark shadow and using other protection (such as clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen) to avoid reflected UV radiation from nearby surfaces
Slide on sunglasses:
- with a broad-brimmed hat to reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98 per cent
- to children as well as adults
- that are close-fitting wrap-around style that meet the Australian Standard AS 1067 and provide an Eye Protection Factor EPF) of 9 or above