Cancer Council Australia and the Australasian College of Dermatologists have joined forces once again this year to celebrate National Skin Cancer Action Week (November 15 – 21), reinforcing the importance of being ‘SunSmart’ through sun protective measures and behavioural change.

Having for many years supported the Australasian College of Dermatologists, the NSW Cancer Council, various cancer patient advocacy groups with their public health skin cancer campaigns, and this year, GenesisCare with the launch of their novel radiation therapy for NMSC offering targeted and personalised treatment to Queensland-based patients, we, at VIVA! Communications, are long-standing advocates for skin cancer prevention, identification, protection, and for saving lives.

So, what are the two main types of skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells caused by cell damage, most commonly, due to sun exposure. There are two types of skin cancer – melanoma, and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), which includes basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Melanoma is a skin cancer that commonly occurs on body parts over-exposed to the sun. The disease, which is projected to be our nation’s third most common cancer diagnosed this year (16,221 anticipated new cases), is diagnosed in more men than women.

Afflicting Australians predominantly aged 15 – 39, melanoma is expected to claim the lives of 1,375 Australians this year.

NMSC, or ‘keratinocyte cancers’, represent our nation’s most common cancer. With five-times the incidence of all other cancers combined, NMSC is the most expensive cancer to treat, noting almost 980,000 new cases of NMSC are treated across Australia each year. Although an estimated two-in-three Australians will be diagnosed with NMSC before 70 years of age, fortunately most lesions are not life-threatening.

The two main types of NMSC include the most commonly seen basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC). Both types of cancer usually appear on areas exposed to the sun – the face, head, neck, forearms, shoulders, back and lower legs.

So, who’s at risk?

Anyone can develop skin cancer, although certain people are at heightened risk, including:

  • Those with a personal and family history of skin cancer;
    • People with fair or freckled skin types that burn easily and don’t tan;
    • Those with light coloured eyes, red or fair hair;
    • People who actively tan, or experience chronic sun exposure; and
    • Previous users of solariums, and those with many moles, especially of irregular shape and colour.

What are five simple things you can do to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer?


Slip on sun-protective clothing;

Slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen at least 20 minutes before heading outdoors, and reapply every consecutive two hours;

Slap on a broad-brim hat to protect your face, head, neck and ears;

Seek shade; and

Slide on sunglasses – importantly, ensure they meet Australian standards.

Also get to know your skin, by regularly checking for any changes.

Practising these five simple measures will help to curb this overwhelmingly preventable but deadly disease.

#skincancer #skincancerprevention #SkinCancerActionWeek