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Decline in skin cancer rates starts in Australia

With most skin cancer news only being of significantly increased diagnosis rates of late, it’s good news that Australia seems to be the first country reporting a small drop in the number of skin cancer cases being diagnosed.

The small reduction in melanoma and non-melanoma cases within the under-45 age bracket – the most likely age group to develop the conditions – prove that public health messages in the country such as ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ had worked.

Terry Slevin, from Cancer Council Australia, has launched the first extensive Australian book on the prevention of skin cancer. The evidence-based guide titled Sun, Skin and Health, uses Australian Medicare data to show the rising numbers of skin cancer diagnoses between 2000 and 2011.

“People age 45 and under grew up with sun-smart messages and the ‘slip, slop, slap’ campaign – messages which influenced the policy environment,” said Slevin, “But for people in their 50’s and above, we’re seeing a 6% increase in skin cancer as a result of their higher exposure to the sun. Unfortunately this population used coconut oil and actively sought a tan.”

Just this summer, hospitals saw a rapid, rising wave in the number of melanoma and non-melanoma incidence rates as treatment for British patients with the condition rose by a third over five years. Whilst most patients are often treated as outpatient day cases, others have to stay in hospital and some have surgery to remove the affected area. More than 16,000 skin grafts and flaps were needed to treat cases of the disease in the year 2011 alone.

Although public awareness about the dangers of exposing your skin to the sun too much, or too often, have been improved, many people still tend to take risks or find themselves getting burnt by the sun’s UV rays without realising.

Recent studies have also blamed the invention of smaller swimwear such as the bikini and monokini could be responsible for the modern rise in skin cancer diagnoses.

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