Holding the title of Skin Cancer Capital of the World is one gong our sunshine state could do without, yet it has done so for several years and will be hard to shake without major effort.
In Queensland, more than 3,600 people are estimated to be diagnosed with melanoma each year and the Sunshine Coast remains a hotspot with an average of 496 cases presented annually.
“Incidental sun exposure over a lifetime can be more harmful than we realise, especially in Australia,” Dr Ken Dutton-Regester, a cancer researcher specialising in melanoma said.
“While it has been long-established that sun exposure events causing skin burning and peeling is linked to increased skin cancer risk, it’s only recently scientists have realised the impact small doses of UV exposure can have on the skin too.”
“There are new nationally agreed guidelines in place that people are advised to wear sunscreen on any day the UV index is forecast to reach three or higher.”
“While wearing sunscreen protects your skin from the sun, you can also reduce your risk by avoiding the sun during midday and covering up with clothing such as hats, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts.”
In Queensland, the average UV index during the day is above 3 all year, making it important to be vigilant with sun protection measures even during the colder months.
On the Sunshine Coast, the current UV index can be as high as is 13.7 at its peak (12noon).
While rates of melanoma among younger people are declining, in large part due to the success of slip, slop, slap, seek, slide campaigns, those in older age groups are expected to steeply increase over the coming years due to damage done skin damage done earlier in life before such campaigns began.
One of Dr Ken Dutton-Regester’s research programs is understanding more about drug resistance in late-stage melanoma. Patients can often become resistant to their current melanoma treatments. By understanding more about it, the aim is to create new treatment strategies that will extend responses and increase patient survival.
I was introduced to Ken in late 2018 by a mutual friend of ours, an extraordinary guy Jay Allen. I was immediately impressed by Ken and his passion, and thankful he chooses to use his knowledge to help in the battle against melanoma. We look forward to sharing more of Ken’s research with you.
Special thanks to Julie Coulthard from Inkee PR for writing this story and the photos. Glad you’re part of the team 😊