Queensland declining melanoma rates

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Although still holding the rather dubious record of having the world’s most recorded instances of melanoma, Queenslanders appear to be getting the message when it comes to protecting against skin cancer, according to research released last week (November 6, 2017).

A Cancer Council Queensland study published in the International Journal of Cancer sought to determine whether age was a discriminating factor that influenced whether or not Queenslanders would develop melanoma in their lifetime.

By examining rates of melanoma in the State over a 20-year period (between 1995 and 2014), the Cancer Council Queensland study found a decreasing rate of melanoma among those aged 40 years or younger.

The steepest decline in the rate of melanoma was among Queenslanders born after 1980, which, according to the study authors, reflects the impact of an increasing number of public awareness campaigns.

This data also demonstrated that among Queenslanders diagnosed with melanoma, the mortality rate had either remained stable, or declined for those aged 60 and under over the 20-year research period.

Again, these findings were attributed to heightened public awareness of preventative measures to avoid skin cancer, and to an increase in the early detection of melanoma, which allows for more successful treatment.

It wasn’t all good news for Queenslanders, though. Despite declining rates of melanoma, the “Sunshine State” still holds the title for the most recorded cases of the illness world-wide, with 72-in-every-100,000 people diagnosed each year.

Many of those diagnosed are aged 60 and older, which suggests older Australians are yet to adopt the sun safety message to the same degree as their younger counterparts.

Mortality rates in the over 60s also proved to be an outlier in the Cancer Council’s study, as it was the only category in which melanoma-related deaths rose between 1995 and 2014.

According to the Melanoma Institute Australia, melanoma is the third most prevalent cancer in Australia, with around 14,000 Australians expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2017 alone. Even though melanoma itself only accounts for two per cent of skin cancers, it accounts for 75 per cent of skin cancer deaths.

However, statistics also reveal 90 per cent of people affected by melanoma will make a full recovery after having the primary melanoma surgically removed. In only 10 per cent of cases, the disease will have spread far enough to become life-threatening.

Hopefully melanoma mortality rates will continue to decline with ongoing public awareness campaigns.

Read more about the research here.

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