5 ways you can act against skin cancer

15-21 November 2021 is National Skin Cancer Action Week - the ideal opportunity for all Australians to think about their skin health and take action to stay healthy and safe for a long time to come. Here are five things you can do today to act against skin cancer!

1. Get a skin cancer check

One skin cancer is diagnosed every minute in Australia, with two in three of us developing the disease by the age of 70. Since Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world, it is recommended that we get professional skin cancer checks at least once a year, or more often if at high risk of the disease. Skin cancer checks are quick, easy and painless - learn more here!

99 per cent of skin cancers are curable if detected and treated early.

2. Adopt sun safe habits

Did you know levels of UV (the main cause of skin cancer) in Australia can remain high all year round, even during winter and on cloudy days? It's therefore important to get into the habit of wearing appropriate sun protection every day, including sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Learn more about how to stay sun safe here.

3. Encourage your family and friends to get a skin check

We conducted an online survey of Aussie men and found that 79 per cent haven't had a skin cancer check this year! Our friends and family can need some encouragement to get a skin check, and it's important to keep an eye on your loved ones' skin (especially in areas they can't see themselves, such as the back, neck and scalp) and encourage them to get a skin check if they are overdue.

If you have ever been diagnosed with melanoma, your parents, siblings and children are at 50 per cent higher risk of developing the disease too.

Learn more about family melanoma risk here.

4. Monitor your skin between skin cancer checks

Skin cancer can grow very fast and sometimes show no signs until an advanced stage. That's why it's important to keep an eye on your skin in between professional skin exams with your Skin Cancer Doctor. Every few months, check over your skin for anything new, changing or different from your other skin lesions. Ask a loved one for help in hard-to-see areas, and don't forget that skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body - even places that never see the sun! Learn more about what to look for here.

5. Know your skin cancer risk

Many people underestimate their own skin cancer risk. It's important to know if you are at increased or high risk of skin cancer so you can appropriately address your skin health and your Skin Cancer Doctor may recommend total body photography. You are at increased risk of skin cancer if you:

  • have a personal or family history of skin cancer
  • have many moles or freckles
  • are over 40 years old 
  • are male
  • have been sunburned or used a sunbed
  • have a fair complexion
  • have red hair or light coloured eyes
  • burn easily or don’t tan in the sun
  • work outdoors or spend lots of time outdoors
  • have a weakened immune system

Learn more about skin cancer risk here.