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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Northern NSW tops the state for melanoma risk

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Using sunscreen is one way to reduce the risk of melanoma. (supplied)
Using sunscreen is one way to reduce the risk of melanoma. (supplied)

Northern NSW has emerged at the state’s melanoma hotspot, with seven local communities recording the highest incidences of the disease.

The communities are Byron, Ballina, Richmond Valley, Lismore, Kyogle, Clarence Valley and the Tweed.

As the NSW Skin Prevention Strategy was released yesterday, the Cancer Institute of NSW released figures showing that approximately 4,900 people across the state would be diagnosed with the disease next year alone.

And the Institute is warning those figures would increase to approximately 6,000 people by 2021.

Cancer Institute chief executive Professor David Currow said however that action could be taken to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

‘We know that 95 per cent of melanomas can be prevented by protecting the skin from harmful UV. For non-melanoma skin cancers this rises to 99 per cent,’ Prof Currow said.

‘Our message for people in NSW is to take action to protect your skin, it could save your life. When the UV is high, whether it is sunny or overcast, seek shade, apply broad spectrum, SPF 30+ sunscreen every two hours and wear a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing.’

The NSW Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy involves government and non-government organisations across the state working together to reduce the risks.

‘This strategy is a collaborative effort and will see us work with groups like Safe Work NSW, the NSW Ministry of Health, NSW Department of Education, the NSW Office of Sport, Cancer Council NSW, Melanoma Institute Australia and others to implement policies, campaigns and infrastructure to protect the community from harmful UV,’ Prof Currow said.

Melanoma survivor and teacher Veronica Manock saidgetting the message out to people at risk was vital.

‘Young people don’t realise that melanoma is something can happen to them, but I was only 20 when I was first diagnosed,’ Ms Manock said.

‘Now, I make sure the students I teach know how easy it is to protect themselves when out and about and that simple actions can prevent more damage from UV rays.

‘Preventing melanoma and other skin cancers is something everyone can do and something we are each responsible for. It’s great to see such an important message spread through this strategy and I believe that together, we can all be a part of the change in the future of skin cancer.

The NSW Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy focuses on groups most at risk of UV exposure such as kids, adolescents and men over 40, as well as settings where people are most exposed to the sun, like schools, outdoor work sites and leisure areas like pools, parks and beaches.


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