Skin cancer quick facts
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
Regardless of their skin type, everyone is at risk of sun damage and skin cancer.
Overexposure to the sun can cause skin damage which may lead to skin cancer.
Stages of Melanoma
Melanoma of the skin is the 19th most commonly occurring cancer in men and women. There were nearly 300,000 new cases in 2018.
Estimated number of new cases of melanoma of the skin diagnosed in 2021
In 2021, it is estimated that 16,878 new cases of melanoma of the skin will be diagnosed in Australia (9,869 males and 7,009 females).
In 2021, it is estimated that a person has a 1 in 18 (or 5.7%) risk of being diagnosed with melanoma of the skin by the age of 85 (1 in 15 or 6.7% for males and 1 in 22 or 4.6% for females).
Estimated number of deaths from melanoma of the skin in 2021
In 2021, it is estimated that there will be 1,315 deaths (843 males and 472 females).
In 2021, it is estimated that a person has a 1 in 246 (or 0.41%) risk of dying from melanoma of the skin by the age of 85 (1 in 188 or 0.53% for males and 1 in 356 or 0.28% for females).
A major factor is geography AU’s proximity to the equator line.
Generally speaking, the closer to the equator someone lives, the greater the amount and intensity of sun exposure they receive. That gradient is seen in a comparison of skin cancer rates across Australian states with Queensland reporting much higher rates than New South Wales, which is in turn higher than Victoria.
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells. It generally develops in areas that are exposed to the sun, but it can also form in places that don’t normally get sun exposure.
The two main categories of skin cancers are defined by the cells involved:
Keratinocyte carcinoma (Non-melanoma)
The first category is basal and squamous cell skin cancers. These are the most common forms of skin cancer. They are more likely to develop in the areas of your body that are the most sun, such as the head and neck.
They are less likely than other forms of skin cancer to spread and be life-threatening, however, if left untreated, they can enlarge and spread to other parts of your body.
The second category of skin cancer is melanoma. This type of cancer develops from cells that give the skin its color. These cells are known as melanocytes.
They can develop anywhere in your body. In men, these moles are more likely to develop on the chest and back. In women, these moles are more likely to develop on the legs.
Most melanomas can be cured if they are identified and treated early. If left untreated, they can spread to other parts of your body and become more difficult to treat. Melanomas are more likely to spread than basal and squamous cell skin cancers.
According to different organisations and health specialists, you can use the “ABCDE rule” to look for some of the common signs of melanoma at home, if you do not have a screening and identification device such as AI MediScan:
Asymmetry - One part of a mole or birthmark doesn’t match the other.
Border - The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred
Colour - The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
Diameter - The spot is larger than ¼ inch across - about the size of a pencil eraser - although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
Evolving - The mole is changing in size, shape, or colour.
Both basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, or cancers, usually grow on parts of the body that get the most sun, such as the face, head, and neck. But we can't stress enough they can show up anywhere.