With the Northern Rivers of NSW continuing to break records for skin cancer cases, everyone is being urged to make a date with the doctor to get a skin check.
Australian National Skin Check Day is held annually on the last Thursday in summer, with a special focus this year on rural Australians. The day is a reminder to book in for a skin cancer check if you haven’t had one for a while, and if possible to make it an annual ‘date with your doctor’ on the calendar.
Australia’s National Skin Check Day was created by the Mates Against Melanoma charity as a day of action for the early detection of melanoma and related skin cancers.
Common, and dangerous
President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), Dr Megan Belot, says skin cancer remains Australia’s most common cancer.
She said that because many rural Australians live, work and play in the outdoors, looking after their skin has to be a priority.
‘Whether you are a farmer, a builder or just someone who loves to spend time outdoors, you are a prime candidate for skin cancer.
You don’t need to be in the sun for very long to sustain skin damage,’ said Dr Belot.
‘It is essential to do everything you can to protect your skin – including wearing long sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors, staying in the shade, applying sunscreen of at least 30SPF, staying inside during the sunniest parts of the day, and wearing a hat and sunglasses.’
But skin care doesn’t stop there
Dr Belot said, ‘It is critical that you get an annual skin check with your doctor to find any potential skin cancers early. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
‘A great idea is to make Australia’s National Skin Check Day the day you ring up to make that annual appointment… or the day you go in for your check.
‘It is critically important, and certainly not a check you should just keep putting off,’ she said.
‘After all, your life may depend on it.’
A skin cancer checking program organised by Mates Against Melanoma as part of ANSCD 2021 saw 1629 skin checks performed.
This resulted in 944 suspicious spots to be monitored and followed up, and 511 biopsies performed.