A new national skin cancer awareness campaign launched today has the potential to significantly reduce the impact of the nation’s most costly yet preventable cancer, according to The Cancer Council Australia.
Cancer Council spokesperson and melanoma surgeon, Emeritus Professor Bill McCarthy, said that the campaign would make a significant contribution to changing the attitudes and behaviour of young people to skin cancer and sun protection. “Skin cancer claims around 1500 lives and costs the health system $300 million each year, yet it is largely preventable by taking sun-protection measures,” Professor McCarthy said. “Young people are at particular risk and are the most difficult group to convince of the need to protect themselves.” Professor McCarthy said that in more than three decades of clinical practice he had treated thousands of skin cancer patients who could have avoided the anguish of complex medical procedures and in some cases premature death, had they protected themselves effectively from ultraviolet radiation.”This is a welcome initiative by the Australian Government,” he said. “While some of the images may seem confronting, people need to get strong messages in order to realise that skin cancer can result in premature death and disfigurement, yet is in most cases avoidable through sensible measures to avoid exposure to UV radiation.” The Cancer Council Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Professor Ian Olver, also welcomed the campaign, which he described as crucial to helping to change the attitudes and behaviour of young Australians about skin cancer and sun protection. “Australia has the world’s highest skin cancer incidence and mortality rates and this government-funded campaign is an important step in trying to reduce the unacceptable, but largely avoidable burden of skin cancer,” Professor Olver said. “We welcome this targeted campaign, which communicates the five principles of effective sun protection – seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothing, a broad-brimmed hat, SPF 30+ sunscreen and sun-protective, wrap-around sunglasses. “Our research shows people have a tendency to become complacent about skin cancer. That complacency results in an enormous social and economic cost for a disease that in the vast majority of cases can be prevented.”(Source: Cancer Council: November 2006.)