Men underestimate skin cancer risk
Australian men are being urged to stop ignoring the risk of skin cancer, with new research showing most underestimate how vulnerable they are to the sun.
A survey released by the Australasian College of Dermatologists shows that fewer than one in three men consider themselves at high risk of the disease despite most (82 per cent) having at least one of the known risk factors: fair hair, skin that burns easily and spending time outdoors.
Sixty-one per cent of survey participants said they had delayed a doctor visit despite having concerns, while more than a quarter of full-time workers claimed to be too busy to have a skin check.
President of the ACD, Associate Professor Andrew Miller, said men need a reality check and to be reminded that they can die from skin cancer if it isn’t caught early.
“The earlier they are diagnosed the better the outcome, 90 per cent of melanomas are cured simply by being cut out,” said Prof Miller.
Brisbane man and avid beach goer Tony was about to get married when he was diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of 32.
Now 55, the father-of-three said it was his now-wife who had convinced him to have the ‘suspicious’ spot looked at by a doctor.
“If she hadn’t pushed me, I would likely have left it longer,” he said.
Like many, he thought his risk of skin cancer was no more than anyone else.
“I was shocked. You don’t expect to get skin cancer at the age of 32. You think your risk is no more than anyone else.”
Tony has since had several skin cancers removed from his neck, chest and back including an early stage melanoma.
An estimated two-in-three Australians will develop skin cancer by 70 years of age – a disease primarily caused by exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
Professor David Whiteman, deputy director, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute said this rises noticeably at 50 years of age.
He described the survey findings as very concerning.
“Melanomas are a deadly form of skin cancer and can quickly spread to other areas of the body,” he said.
“It’s crucial men do not delay a visit to their doctor if they notice changes in their skin, no matter how busy they might be.”