Skin cancer is often referred to as Australia’s ‘national cancer’. The overall increase in the incidence of skin cancer in Australia’s ageing population is likely, however mortality rates are likely to decrease.
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, and current statistics indicate that two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, yet 95 to 99 per cent of all skin cancers are preventable. There is still progress to be made to embed sun-smart behaviours in some sectors of the Australian population. Two notable examples raised during the Inquiry were the sun protection strategies for the outdoor workforce as well as young Australians, especially at the secondary school level. Indeed there remain pockets of the population which, although aware of the risk, have not translated this awareness into behavioural change.
Early diagnosis is critical for survival rates for skin cancer. Skin cancer clinics have developed in response to the increased demand for skin checks, long waiting times to see dermatologists, as well as cost, distance, and time constraints. Greater assurance should be provided to the public that skin cancer clinics are staffed by practitioners with a high level of relevant skills and experience. Although an overall increase in the incidence of skin cancer in Australia’s ageing population is likely, current trends indicate that mortality rates are likely to decrease. Australia has made great advances in preventing and treating skin cancers, but there is always room for improvement. Steve Irons MP, March 2015.