A new report from the AIHW demonstrates pharmacists’ role in helping reduce the burden of skin cancer, a Cancer Council spokesperson says.
The report, Skin Cancer in Australia, shows that skin cancers overall account for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year and Australia has the world’s second highest melanoma incidence rates.
Skin cancers overall account for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year and Australia has the world’s second highest melanoma incidence rates, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The report, Skin cancer in Australia, presents the latest information on skin cancers—a disease group including melanoma of the skin and non-melanoma skin cancer-in Australia.
The report estimates that almost 13,300 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in Australia in 2016, with about 1,800 people dying from the disease.
“Since 1982, the rate of melanoma in the population has almost doubled-up from 27 to 49 cases per 100,000 people,” says AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey.
“The good news is that for people aged under 40 the rate has dropped, from 13 cases per 100,000 people in 2002, to about 9 in 2016.”
Craig Sinclair, National Chair of the Skin Cancer Committee, Cancer Council Australia, told the AJP that the AIHW report “clearly shows that pharmacists have a role in helping to prevent future instances of skin cancer”.
“Clearly our prevention efforts over many decades have helped contribute to a downturn in melanoma rates in younger people, and we know that products that are purchased through pharmacies make up a big portion of that prevention,” Sinclair says.
“Sunscreen in particular has been demonstrated to have a direct impact in reducing the risk of melanoma, so there’s no doubt that the work pharmacists have contributed, in providing advice to consumers, has helped lead to this reduction in melanoma rates that we’ve seen in this report issued today.”
He says that there are several ways pharmacists can help advise on sun protection: using products such as hats, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts as well as sunscreen; and choosing and using sunscreen wisely.
“We know that if consumers choose a product that they are comfortable with applying, they’re likely to apply a lot more of it,” Sinclair told the AJP.
“Whether that’s SPF30 or 50 it doesn’t really matter – it’s better to sell a product to a consumer where they feel good about its cosmetic appeal, which is incredibly important.
“And clearly, consumers don’t use enough. They’re often using less than half of what they should be using, and it’s important that pharmacists encourage liberal use of sunscreen and regular reapplication.”
The report also shows that survival from melanoma is relatively high, with people diagnosed in 2007-2011 having a 90% chance of surviving at least five years. This is much higher than the five-year survival rate for all cancers combined (67%).
The total number of new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer is unknown. However, non-melanoma skin cancer is estimated to account for more cases diagnosed than all other cancers combined.