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Skin Cancer a risk at Sporting Venues as well as the Beach

Cancer Council research released today (18/11) shows Australians are at the same risk of being sunburnt at sporting venues as they are at the beach.[ii]

 The findings, from Cancer Council’s most recent National Sun Protection Survey, shows sporting venues are clearly linked with sun damage with 22% of Australians at sports grounds and centres getting sunburnt, which is just as high as the percentage of Australians at the beach, local lake or river who got sunburnt (22%). Other places where risk of sunburn was high included at public parks and gardens (12% of park visitors sunburnt), backyard pools (11% sunburnt) and at home or a friend’s place (10% sunburnt).

With National Skin Cancer Action Week [17 – 23 Nov] coinciding with the start of the Ashes Test series at the Gabba in Brisbane (21 November), Cancer Council is reminding Australians to protect themselves wherever they are outdoors, as well as monitor their skin for changes so skin cancers are picked up early.

Louise Baldwin, Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s Skin Cancer Committee said over the next three years, 44,000 Australians (40 a day)[iii] would be told they had the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma. Almost two in three would be men.

“The figures are startling when you put them in perspective,” Louise said. “44,000 people is more than a full capacity crowd at the Gabba. “Cancer Council is reminding Australians that the ‘slip, slop, slap, seek and slide’ message doesn’t just apply at the beach.”

Dr Patricia Lowe, Dermatologist and Honorary Secretary, Australasian College of Dermatologists, said that the earlier a skin cancer was detected, the better the outcome in terms of complete removal and survival rate.

“Many Australians are under the impression that all skin cancers are easily treated, and most are, but only if picked up early. “Too often I see patients who had noticed something unusual on their skin yet didn’t seek advice soon enough. “National Skin Cancer Action Week serves as a timely reminder to all Australians to check their skin now and keep a close eye on it all year-round.”

Australian test cricket captain and Cancer Council SunSmart Ambassador, Michael Clarke, said two of the things Australia was most famous for were cricket and skin cancer.

“I’ve had experience with both,” he said. “I’m only 32 and unfortunately I’ve already had three skin cancers on my face. I’m lucky they were picked up early. We all know the slip, slop, slap, seek and slide message, but too many of us forget to keep an eye on our skin.”

Speaking from personal experience Michael added, “Remember, get to know your skin and if something changes, act fast and get it checked by your GP.”

Cricket Commentator Jim Maxwell is also supporting the campaign, following his own experience with skin cancer. “Sun exposure has ravaged my face and kept dermatologists busy. Be smart, wear a hat and slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.”

National Skin Cancer Action Week is an initiative of Cancer Council Australia with the support of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.



[ii]The research found there was an equal risk of being sunburnt at the beach/lake/river and at a sports centre or grounds (22% of adults at each of these locations reported being sunburnt).

[iii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Cancer incidence projections, Australia 2011 to 2020. AIHW, 2012.