Sun worshipping has long been the hallmark of the Australian culture. Not surprisingly, Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world and the number of cases continues to rise despite increased awareness of the problem.
Skin cancer is also the most common form of cancer in Australians, yet is the most preventable. Each year 1000 Australians die of skin cancer. As well, 140000 people are treated for skin cancers each year, costing the community over 100 million dollars. The risk of developing skin cancer increases with age, and is greater than fifty per cent in those over sixty-five. The incidence of skin cancer is increasing all over the world, particularly in warmer climates. This is related partly to the depletion of the ozone layer, but also to our outdoor recreational lifestyles.
Skin cancer is very visible, so it can be detected early. Early detection leads to complete cure with minimal disability. The Anti-Cancer Council must be congratulated for their work; many people are now aware of what skin cancers look like, so early detection and early treatment are now much more common. However, many others, especially men over sixty-five, still develop advanced skin cancer which can be life threatening because they ignore or do not detect the early warning signs.