Australia reclaims unwanted melanoma title

Matt Woodley

13/02/2019 2:56:30 PM

Australia has overtaken New Zealand as the country with the highest rates of invasive melanoma in the world, new research has revealed.

Australia has the highest rates of invasive melanoma in the world.
Australia has the highest rates of invasive melanoma in the world.

According to the study, around 50 in every 100,000 Australians were diagnosed with the disease in 2014–15 – the most recent data available – compared to about 47 out of every 100,000 New Zealanders.
The incidence rate for invasive melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has dropped in New Zealand but remain steady in Australia.
Professor David Whiteman, Deputy Director of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, described the Australian figures as surprising due to a 2016 report that suggested melanoma incidence would decline in both countries.
‘The main difference between the populations of Australia and New Zealand is in the 60-plus age groups,’ Professor Whiteman said.
While Australia has the highest incidence rates in the world, other population groups measured – including US Caucasians, the UK, Sweden, Norway and Canada – are slowly closing the gap.
Those populations recorded rate increases of 1.7–4.8%. Professor Whiteman explained the variance between countries could be attributed to the implementation of community-wide skin cancer prevention programs.
‘Australia has a long history of coordinated and broad-reaching primary prevention campaigns, beginning in the early 1980s, whereas in the US, UK, Norway and Sweden such programs were implemented at least a decade later,’ he said.
‘In Denmark, population studies show a big drop in the number of Danes using sunbeds since a 10-year national sun safety campaign began in 2007.’
However, Professor Whiteman believes it is too early to tell if current trends in melanoma incidence will continue.
‘We need to keep monitoring these trends to understand the impact of control efforts in place in each jurisdiction,’ he said.
‘Unfortunately, in North America, Sweden and Norway, melanoma rates are rising with no signs of abating.’
The Melanoma Institute Australia launched a free e-learning portal last year to assist with diagnosis and treatment. At the time, Dr Morton Rawlin, Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Dermatology network, told newsGP ongoing education in melanoma is of particular importance for GPs.
‘The area of melanoma care is changing. Lots of research is being done, which is improving patient outcomes and reducing toxicity of therapies,’ he said.
‘GPs are seeing people frequently that are on the newer therapies, so it is important for us to be up-to-date with those.’
The most recent research follows new guidelines adopted by Australia’s peak sun-safety bodies, which suggest people apply sunscreen every day as part of a regular morning routine.

melanoma QIMR Berghofer skin cancer

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NEVILLE LUDBEY   14/02/2019 11:15:36 AM

I wonder if sunscreen has given a false sense of security here, and cover up is not practiced enough - see so many people at the beach and with children in full sun, minimum clothing, and no hats

Judith Meldrum   16/02/2019 1:16:19 PM

Possibly many people who worship the sun do not know people who have been diagnosed with Melanoma .My family history -dad died from secondary Melanoma, my younger sister has had Melanoma as has her husband and his mother ,and then their daughter at age 19 was diagnosed with Melanoma on her leg ,with secondary spread and surgery ,Immunotherapy and radiotherapy, and now at 29 a beautiful woman with scarring to her groin area and no evidence of recurrence , yet ...
Daily sunscreen is something I have done from age 30 at least ,and so far so good!!
Cosmetic companies promote products with SPF included and I think that is false advertising to women .
But how to get the message to others .