Aussie blokes underestimate their risk of skin cancer

Fewer than one-in-three Aussie blokes (32 per cent) consider themselves at high risk of skin cancer, despite 82 per cent reporting at least one known risk factor.


Skin cancer risk factors include fair hair, skin that burns easily, or spending time outdoors each week.


Moreover, most men (61 per cent) have delayed a doctor visit despite their concern about a health issue,with more than a quarter of full-time workers claiming to be too busy at work and unable to spare the time.


An Australian dies every five hours from skin cancer.


The disease accounts for around 80 per cent of new cancer diagnoses, with two-in-three Australians diagnosed with a skin cancer by 70 years of age.


These Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) survey findings released on 6 June 2018, aim to reinforce the importance of early skin cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention among men for Australia’s most common cancer.


According to Dr Alex Varol, dermatologist and Fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, Sydney, who has witnessed the devastating impact of skin cancer throughout her career, early diagnosis is key to successful treatment.


“As experts in the diagnosis, surgical and non-surgical treatment and management of skin cancer, including melanoma, dermatologists unfortunately see a huge number of male patients with some form of skin cancer.


“Men are at higher risk of developing both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancer than women, but are often more reluctant to visit a doctor to have their skin checked. Often it’s not until they know someone who has been diagnosed with skin cancer, that they too, suddenly realise they could be at risk of the disease,” said Dr Varol.


“Removing the primary melanoma at the origin will resolve 90 per cent of cases of the disease, which makes early detection and diagnosis absolutely critical.


“It’s crucial that all Australians, particularly men, prioritise their skin health, by performing regular self-skin checks for changing or non-healing marks, and visit a doctor as soon as they notice anything suspicious,” Dr Varol said.


Professor David Whiteman, Deputy Director, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, who recently developed an online tool designed to identify individuals at high risk of melanoma in just 90 seconds, says skin cancer is an exceptionally common cancer.


“An estimated two-in-three Australians will develop skin cancer by 70 years of age,and skin cancer – a disease caused by sun exposure between 95-99 per cent of the time – accounts for roughly 80 per cent of all cancer diagnoses in Australia.


“The risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers increases with age. This risk starts to rise noticeably at 50 years of age, and the risk curve becomes markedly steeper with advancing age,” said Prof Whiteman.


Prof Whiteman is joining dermatologists and male skin cancer patients Australia-wide, to urge men to pay more attention to their skin.


“What’s most concerning about the new ACD survey findings is that Australian men are failing to recognise they are at risk of skin cancer, despite our country’s high level of UV exposure.


“Melanomas are a deadly form of skin cancer and can quickly spread to other areas of the body. 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,” Prof Whiteman said.


If you notice any new or unusual marks on your skin, visit your GP immediately and they will discuss your options with you and advise whether you may need a referral to a dermatologist for expert skin health advice.


To learn more about skin cancer and the important role played by a dermatologist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of skin cancer, see


7 June 2018.