Sun-smart aware­ness needed to cut can­cer

Gat­ton among our states hotspots

Gatton Star - - NEWS - Meg Bolton Meg.bolton@gat­ton­star.com.au

AUS­TRALIA’S worst can­cer hotspots have been re­vealed on an in­ter­ac­tive dig­i­tal at­las iden­ti­fy­ing pat­terns of can­cer in­ci­dence and sur­vival rates.

The Can­cer Coun­cil tech­nol­ogy al­lows Aus­tralians to de­ter­mine the sever­ity of 20 can­cers by sub­urb or post­code.

Can­cer Coun­cil Queens­land CEO Chris Mcmil­lan said the data high­lighted the can­cer di­vide on a geo­graph­i­cal ba­sis.

“This project builds on years of work by Can­cer Coun­cil Queens­land to bet­ter un­der­stand the can­cer di­vide be­tween met­ro­pol­i­tan and ru­ral ar­eas, and map the gaps linked to so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus and other de­mo­graphic fac­tors,” Ms Mcmil­lan said.

“In 2018 an es­ti­mated 138,000 Aus­tralians will be di­ag­nosed with can­cer, but we know that some peo­ple face greater risks of di­ag­no­sis and death than oth­ers, due to a mix of lifestyle, be­hav­iour, ge­net­ics and other un­known fac­tors.”

South­east Queens­land and north­ern New South Wales were recorded to have the high­est rates of melanoma, with di­ag­no­sis in Gat­ton 49 per cent higher than the Aus­tralian av­er­age.

Lock­yer Val­ley Med­i­cal Cen­tre prac­tice prin­ci­pal Us­man Khan said the data was not a sur­prise.

“This belt in south­east Queens­land be­tween Bris­bane and the Dar­ling Downs area seems to have the high­est rate of melanoma,” Dr Khan said.

“Lifestyle fac­tors play a huge part. There’s still a lot of peo­ple that go out in the sun with­out a wide hat, they wear a cap and think that’s pro­tec­tive but the top of the ears and back of the neck … get a lot of ex­po­sure.”

Melanoma di­ag­no­sis in the east of the Lock­yer Val­ley was also high, with rates 49 per cent above the Aus­tralia av­er­age.

But ex­cess deaths were 10 per cent lower than the Aus­tralian av­er­age in Lock­yer Val­ley east and

6 per cent lower in Gat­ton.

Mr Khan said sur­vival rates could be cred­ited to a grow­ing aware­ness of skin can­cer.

“We are find­ing melanomas a lot ear­lier so rate of deaths are prob­a­bly go­ing down for that rea­son, which is a good thing, but we are still find­ing a lot of them.”

While the at­las showed the rates of can­cer in each area, Can­cer Coun­cil Queens­land head of re­search Pro­fes­sor Joanne Aitken said lo­cal can­cer trends didn’t nec­es­sar­ily re­flect can­cer risk.

“Re­gard­less of what is hap­pen­ing in our lo­cal area, we should each feel em­pow­ered to re­duce our can­cer risk by not smok­ing, be­ing Sun­smart, main­tain­ing a healthy weight, re­duc­ing al­co­hol in­take, ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly, eat­ing a healthy diet and get­ting checked.”

■ Find the can­cer at­las at at­las.can­cer.org.au/app.

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