Australians are unknowingly increasing their risk of skin cancer
because they dont know when they need sun protection the most, the
findings of a national survey suggests.
The latest National Sun Protection Survey, released by Cancer
Council Australia, found fewer than one in 10 adults understood
that sun protection is required when UV levels are 3 or above.
Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) is a major cause of melanoma the
fourth most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and levels can
remain high during autumn despite the temperature drop.
The survey also suggests Australians remain confused about
weather factors and sunburn.
In summer 2016-17, 24 per cent of those surveyed incorrectly
believed that sunburn risk was related to temperature, while 23 per
cent incorrectly cited conditions such as cloud cover, wind or
Heather Walker, chair of Cancer Council Australias National Skin
Cancer Committee, says the knowledge gap is concerning and it is
time for the federal government to step up and invest in a new
national sun protection campaign.
This new research shows that Australians are still very confused
about what causes sunburn, which means people arent protected when
they need to be, said Ms Walker.
Melanoma rates have dropped in the under 40s age group due to
the success of past slip, slop, slap campaigns.
But the sun protection message needs to be continually
reinforced, says Ms Walker.
If its not, then younger generations will continue to be
affected by the deadly skin cancer because the suns not going
anywhere, the UV levels in Australia are always going to be high,
Ms Walker says the last federal government-funded sun protection
campaign was nearly a decade ago.
I think its a really important time for the federal government
to step up and contribute to a national campaign, she told AAP.
Some of the countrys experts in the field will meet at the
Australian Skin and Skin Cancer Centre in Brisbane on Monday in the
hope of developing new educational strategies .
Professor David Whiteman, head of the Cancer Cancer Control
group at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, says one
particular focus will be the role of sunscreen.
It seems many Australians still appear to be confused about when
they ought to be wearing sunscreen and it seems levels of use in
some sectors of the population are less than we would like, said
He says even if there are new emerging and effective treatments
for melanoma prevention is always better than cure.