November 18–24, 2018
National Skin Cancer Action Week is a joint annual initiative of Cancer Council Australia and the Australasian College of Dermatologists, with a dual focus on skin cancer prevention and early detection.
This year’s National Skin Cancer Action Week campaign highlights the harmful trend of tanning in young people and how it dramatically increases the risk of skin cancer in later life.
According to new research released by Cancer Council Australia, 67 per cent of Australian girls believe their friends think a tan is a good thing. And although tanning preferences have dropped since 2003, this positive trend has stalled since the last survey in 2013.
So this National Skin Cancer Action Week and all through summer, ditch the tan and #OwnYourTone.
UV and young people
Studies have demonstrated that UV exposure during the first 18 years of life is the factor which has the biggest impact on your future risk of skin cancer. But despite this alarming statistic, 38 per cent of teenagers still want to tan.
There exist many misconceptions about tanning. Here are the truths:
- There’s no such thing as a ‘healthy tan’
Any change in your skin tone—including tanning— is a sign of damage being done which significantly increases your risk of getting skin cancer. And it’s not only later in life that you should be concerned—melanoma is the second most common cancer in young people aged 15–29.
- You can’t always ‘just cut it out’
Skin cancer claims over 2,000 Australian lives every year. If caught early, some spots can be surgically removed—but prevention is always safer than relying purely on catching cancer early.
- A tan is going to make you look older
Think that a tan will help give you that youthful glow? Think again. It’s believed that up to 80 per cent of premature facial ageing—such as wrinkles and fine lines—is caused by too much sun.
Cut your risk of skin cancer
Most skin cancers can be prevented by the use of good sun protection. That’s why this National Skin Cancer Action Week, all Australians are urged to use the five forms of sun protection. These are to:
- slip on sun-protective clothing
- slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
- slap on a broad-brimmed hat
- seek shade
- slide on sunglasses
By getting to know your skin and regularly self-examining for signs of damage, you can help to catch cancer early and give yourself the best chance of successful treatment. You can learn more about self-checking your skin here.
If you do find a new spot—or changes in shape, size or colour to an existing spot—visit your GP immediately.