Cancer Council WA has launched it's 2019/20 summer skin cancer campaign ‘Don't Let The Sun See Your DNA' - a State-wide campaign to increase the public's knowledge of the dangers of ongoing UV exposure - as figures reveal treatment of skin cancer is estimated to cost WA more than $90 million per year.[1 2]
Cancer Council WA SunSmart Manager, Mark Strickland, said while many Western Australians are now aware of the link between excessive UV radiation and skin cancer, many are unaware of the cumulative effect of UV and do not routinely use sun protection during daily activities.
"The UV in sunlight penetrates our skin to the cells beneath the surface, so each time the sun sees our skin cells (when the UV is 3 or above), it's doing damage to the DNA in them that can keep building up, until one day it causes a skin cancer," Mr Strickland said.
"The stronger the UV radiation, the faster the DNA damage occurs and that can happen in as little as 10 minutes on a summer day in WA."
Mr Strickland said the campaign uses a UV camera to emphasise the cumulative skin damage caused by UV that the human eye can't see.
"The UV camera uses ultraviolet light to show skin damage, caused by UV radiation, which is normally hidden," he said.
Mr Strickland said that half of all sunburns in Australia occur during passive recreation such as watching sport, gardening or picnicking, or during chores around the house.
"Cancer Council data shows that while only 11% of Aussie adults deliberately attempt to tan their skin, 64% of adults actually do have tanned skin3. We know that a tan is a sign of damaged skin and a risk factor for skin cancer. The fact that so many have an unintentional tan is an indicator that these adults need to improve their everyday sun protection," he said.
"No matter where you are, or what you're doing, when exposed to UV levels of three or above, your skin is being damaged, even if you don't get burnt. This damage adds up over time and increases your risk of skin cancer.
"The key to avoiding skin damage is to integrate SunSmart measures into your daily routine.
"Make it easy for yourself to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide when the UV is three or above: keep a broadbrim hat in the car or at work for when you duck out for lunch; apply sunscreen in the morning before you leave the house; don't forget to wear long sleeves and sunnies; and seek shade when the UV is forecast to reach three."
Cancer Council WA's SunSmart campaign will air in WA across TV, radio, outdoor and online from Sunday December 1, 2019 until March 2020.
1. Fransen, M., et al., Non-melanoma skin cancer in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia, 2012. 197(10): p. 566-568.
2. Elliott , T.M., et al., Estimated healthcare costs of melanoma in Australia over 3 years post diagnosis. Applied Economics and
Health Policy, 2017: p. 1-12