Australia: the sunburnt countryLife ‘down under’ is not all sunshine and surfing. Sitting narrowly behind its close neighbor New Zealand, Australia is home to the second-highest incidence rates of melanoma in the world. In 2021, it was the second most diagnosed cancer amongst males in Australia, and third amongst females, with the risk of diagnosis increasing among both sexes with age.
Commonly found on sun-exposed body parts, the risk of developing melanoma increases with exposure to ultra-violet radiation, meaning Australia’s sun-loving culture presents a significant risk to Australia remaining a skin cancer hot spot. While skin cancer has a high incidence rate in Australia, the melanoma mortality rate has trended downwards in recent years, which may be credited to increasing awareness of the importance of sun safety, and early detection programs.
Australians are familiar with public sun protection campaigns, including the popular ‘Slip-Slop-Slap!’ campaign originally launched in the ’80s, which encourages people to ‘slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat’, and later expanded to include ‘seek shade’ and ‘slide on sunnies’ or sunglasses. However, skin cancer is not the only cancer Australians need to be wary of, with many risk factors being attributed to various cancers.