With over 750,000 skin cancers treated every year in Australia, it's highly likely that most of us will be impacted by the disease at some stage in our lives. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, coming in second behind New Zealand. In fact, we are 13 times more likely to develop the disease than the global average.
There are many reasons why our skin cancer rate is so high, such as:
- There are a lot of fair-skinned people living in Australia whose skin type is more susceptible to sunburn.
- Levels of UV radiation are very high in Australia.
- We are a sun-loving nation that loves the outdoors, with many of us spending a great deal of time at the beach, in the backyard, or playing sports such as cricket or football.
- We have an ageing population, and skin cancers tend to develop in later life after sun damage acquired during childhood. Older generations weren't as aware of the risks of sun exposure as we are now.
- We have heightened awareness of our skin cancer risk, so we are more likely to see a doctor about suspicious moles, leading to increased rates of detection and treatment.
But did you know that skin cancer can also run in the family?
Around 2,000 lives are lost every year to melanoma, which is predominantly caused by sun exposure, but can also be hereditary. Each person with a first-degree relative diagnosed with melanoma has a 50 per cent greater chance of developing the disease than people who do not have a family history of the disease.
This means that if your mother, father, siblings or children have had a melanoma, you are in a melanoma-prone family.
If you have been diagnosed with melanoma, it is important that your close relatives get regular skin checks, as the survival rate increases up to 99 per cent if the disease is detected early.
Take our quick quiz to find out if you are at risk of skin cancer.