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Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Approximately 17,000 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma each year, with 1400 dying from it annually. It is estimated that a person has a 1 in 265 (or 0.38%) risk of dying from melanoma of the skin by the age of 85 (1 in 204 or 0.49% for males and 1 in 383 or 0.26% for females) according to Cancer Australia.

The summer holidays can be a great time to get outdoors, but with it comes the risk of sun exposure. Dermatologists say the sun poses a danger even on cloudy days.

For best protection, the Cancer Council recommends a combination of sun protection measures:

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  2. Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  3. Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
  4. Seek shade.
  5. Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.

Dermatologists highlight the importance of people regularly checking their own skin and looking out for new lesions or changes. If they have any concerns, they should speak with their GP.

Anyone with a history of past skin cancer needs more regular surveillance. Other risk factors are family history, red hair or fair skin, and older people should take extra care because of cumulative sun exposure over their lifetime.   `

Further information

10 myths about sun protection debunked by Cancer Council

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