Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. In fact, approximately 2 out of every 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70 years. Australians are also 4 times more likely to develop skin cancer than any other type of cancer.
Who is most at risk?
The chance of developing skin cancer depends on a number of factors. A person may be more likely to develop skin cancer if they:
Nevertheless, it is important for everyone, regardless of age or skin type, to take steps to protect themselves against skin cancer.
Solariums, sunlamps and sun beds are not safe ways to tan. Solariums emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation that, according to SunSmart Victoria, can be up to 3 times as strong as the midday sun. Solariums have been shown in research to increase the risk of skin cancer: those who use a solarium before the age of 35 years have a 75 per cent greater risk of developing a melanoma than those who do not use solariums.
Some medical treatments can increase the risk of skin cancer. These include UV treatment for skin conditions such as psoriasis. In addition, a number of medicines, including some creams and lotions, can make a person more susceptible to skin damage from UV rays. Ask your doctor if any medicines you are prescribed are likely to increase your sensitivity to UV light.
Some substances are photosensitisers, and exposure to them, for example through your occupation, can make you more sensitive to UV light, and put you at increased risk of skin cancer. Examples include: