Sun-smart awareness needed to cut cancer
Gatton among our states hotspots
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.