Older Queenslanders need SunSmarts

hot sun at midday: sunburn

Cancer Council is warning older Queenslanders to stay SunSmart and check their skin, with new research showing more older Queenslanders are being diagnosed with skin cancer than ever before.

New data shows around 1900 Queenslanders aged 50 to 80 are diagnosed with melanoma every year – about five people every day.

Cancer Council spokesperson Katie Clift says the median age for a melanoma diagnosis in Queensland is 61 years of age.

“Around 375 Queenslanders aged 60-64 are diagnosed with melanoma every year – the highest number of any age group in the State,” Clift says.

“Queenslanders can mistakenly believe that protecting their skin is only important in childhood years – which isn’t the case.

“While it is imperative to protect our children’s skin, research shows that UV radiation from the sun can damage skin cells and increase the risk of skin cancer at any age.”

Clift says unprotected exposure to UV radiation in later life can trigger already damaged skin cells to become cancerous.

“Skin cancer is related to a person’s total lifetime exposure to UV radiation and the pattern of exposure they have had.”

Cancer Council Queensland has urged Queenslanders over 50 to stay vigilant about being SunSmart and to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide every day, when the UV Index is three or above.

“It’s never too late to be SunSmart and protect your skin – use SPF30 or above broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, wear a broad-brimmed hat and seek shade when outdoors,” Clift says.

“Early diagnosis is also vital.  The earlier that skin cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.”

She encourages Queenslanders to get to know their own skin, and to check it regularly; if they see a new or changed spot, they should seek the advice of a health professional.

More than 136,000 skin cancers are diagnosed in Queensland each year – including around 3,400 melanomas and 133,000 other skin cancers.

Sun protection is required when the UV Index is three or above. In Queensland, the UV Index is three or above all year round, so sun protection is required through every season.

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