Melanoma rates are fi­nally fall­ing

Central and North Burnett Times - - YOUR SAY - — Pro­fes­sor Joanne Aitken, Head of Re­search, Cancer Coun­cil Queens­land

FOR the first time Queens­land re­searchers have found that in­ci­dence rates for in­va­sive melanomas have started to sta­bilise or fall in those aged un­der 60 years, a ground­break­ing new study shows.

The Cancer Coun­cil Queens­land study, pub­lished in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Cancer, ex­am­ined melanoma in­ci­dence and mor­tal­ity rates from the past 20 years, with in­ci­dence rates now plateau­ing in those aged 40–59 and de­clin­ing in those aged un­der 40.

The turn­around in melanoma rates is the re­sult of more than 30 years of skin cancer preven­tion and early-de­tec­tion cam­paigns.

Queens­land has the high­est rate of skin cancer in the world, with around 3700 peo­ple di­ag­nosed with melanoma each year.

The find­ings are ex­tremely promis­ing and give good ev­i­dence that long-run­ning melanoma preven­tion and early-de­tec­tion cam­paigns have re­sulted in a fall in the bur­den of melanoma across suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions.

Cancer Coun­cil’s sig­na­ture Slip, Slop, Slap cam­paign, which launched in the early 1980s and ex­panded to in­clude Seek and Slide more re­cently, started a shift in sun pro­tec­tive be­hav­iours which is now show­ing re­sults.

Melanomas that re­sult from sun ex­po­sure can present many years af­ter the dam­age is done.

Queens­lan­ders aged 60 and over, who did not grow up with preven­tion cam­paigns, con­tinue to ex­pe­ri­ence higher rates of melanoma.

How­ever, we are now see­ing rates de­cline in younger gen­er­a­tions who have been in­flu­enced by preven­tion cam­paigns from an early age.

Melanoma re­mains one of the most pre­ventable can­cers and if de­tected early, most cases can be treated suc­cess­fully.

For the study, Cancer Coun­cil Queens­land re­searchers – in col­lab­o­ra­tion with re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Queens­land, the QIMR-Berghofer Med­i­cal Re­search In­sti­tute and the Princess Alexan­dra Hos­pi­tal – ex­am­ined in­ci­dence and mor­tal­ity rates of in­va­sive melanomas over a 20-year pe­riod from 1995 to 2014 (the lat­est data avail­able).

Mor­tal­ity rates have also started to de­cline by two per cent an­nu­ally in males aged 40–59, and by three per cent an­nu­ally in both males and fe­males un­der 40.

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