Skin Cancer Awareness

Every year in Australia, skin cancers account for around 80 per cent of all newly diagnosed cancers. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Between 95 per cent and 99 per cent of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun.

Also each year in Australia, 1830 Australians die of skin cancer and two thirds of these deaths are men. Why are so many men dying of skin cancer? There are two reasons. Firstly, exposure to the sun and secondly, late detection. Skin cancer is almost entirely preventable through simple lifestyle changes.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. At least two in every three Australians will develop skin cancer before they reach the age of 70. Our skin cancer rates are high predominantly due to our fair skin and because Australia experiences some of the highest levels of UV radiation in the world. Even on cool or cloudy days, UV radiation can still be strong enough to damage unprotected skin and eyes.

Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology taught 900 Queensland men, aged around 50 years, how to check for skin cancers, with half given a DVD and the others receiving only written information. Overall, 69 skin cancers were diagnosed through clinical skin examinations during the seven-month study period, with a higher proportion detected among the group receiving the video intervention. "We found that the men receiving the video intervention once they visited a doctor were more likely to receive a whole-body skin check than those receiving only written information," said lead researcher Associate Professor Monika Janda.

This video, featuring Australian cricketer Ian Healy, guides men through the self-examination process and urges them to ask their doctor for a clinical skin examination.