Information for health professionals
The Queensland Government is committed to raising awareness about skin cancer and how it can be prevented.
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, and Queensland has the highest rate in Australia.
- In 2020, 49% of adults and 45% of children in Queensland reported being sunburnt in the previous 12 months.
- Skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers) accounts for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year.
- Each year, more than 3,600 Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma—the most serious form of skin cancer.
- In 2020-21, Queenslanders had 30,275 admitted episodes of care in Queensland hospitals for skin cancer.
The key prevention messages for Queenslanders are protection from the sun and early detection are the best ways to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Information for Queenslanders on skin cancer and its prevention can be found on the Queensland Government website.
Hear from the experts
Professor Michael Kimlin is an internationally recognised expert on ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Here he explains the concept of cumulative and incidental UV exposure.
Dr. Michael Kimlin: My name is Professor Michael Kimlin, I am the Director of the National Health and Medical Research Council; Centre for Research Excellence, Sun and Health and I work at Queensland University of Technology as a principal research fellow.
Cumulative exposure is important because it is what an individual receives over the course of a lifetime. We think the cumulative exposure is quite important for risks of skin cancer because those people who develop skin cancer tend to indicate that they have a lot of cumulative or what we call lifetime sun exposure. So that is a definite risk factor for people with risk of skin cancer.
We need to make sure that control measures are put in place to actually control exposures to this carcinogen or cancer-causing agent, so things like hats, sunscreens and shades are the most appropriate things we can do to reduce those exposures. But, it’s the little things we can do everyday that are important so sunscreen everyday is great.
Look I think we are all aware that when it is time to go to the beach we pack a bottle of sunscreen along with our swimmers and towels. But really the exposures that we receive are in our normal everyday lives. You think about what we do on a daily basis. Sometimes sunscreen doesn’t really play a part we don’t think about these small, short, sharp exposures because at the end of the day we don’t come home sun burnt do we. So the idea is to control all these incidental exposures, is to put a protective measure in place at the beginning of the day.
A really good idea that people can use on a practical level is for girls perhaps to look at makeup with in built sunscreen with an SPF rating of 15 or 30+ if possible. And guys to look at applying sun screen or even moisturiser with sunscreen for men that actually got that protective measure in there. Then you can go about your day, you have brushed your hair, brushed your teeth, put on your skin protection and get on with your day and not really worry about these incidental exposures that occur during your day–to–day life.
- The Cancer Council Australia has clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of melanomas and non-melanoma skin cancers.
- The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has a clinical guide for GPs about the diagnosis and treatment of melanomas and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Courses and online learning
- The Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) has programs, courses and information for health professionals.
- Skin Cancer College of Australasia has education and training for clinicians.
- SunSmart offers an online learning module for GPs and resources on the prevention and early detection of skin cancer in general practice and primary care settings.
- Skin Cancer Prevention Queensland is a collaborative aimed at reducing the burden of skin cancer in Queensland. It has representation from universities, research sector, government departments, non-government organisations, patient support organisations and clinician-focused organisations.
- The Cancer Council Australia has developed a range of position statements in relation to skin cancer. They include, risks and benefits of sun exposure, screening and early detection, sun protection and infants.
- The Melanoma Institute of Australia (MIA) is a non-profit organisation focused on melanoma prevention and treatment. A range of resources for health professionals (and patients) are available.