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  • SA men put on notice – Watch Your Back!

    21 November 2012

    Cancer Council launches new skin cancer campaign aimed at getting Aussie blokes to look for changes on their skin as figures show they are at more than double the risk of dying from melanoma than their female counterparts.

    Cancer Council SA went ‘onsite’ today to launch its new skin cancer awareness campaign aimed at men 45 years and older for National Skin Cancer Action Week (19-24 November). 

    “Today we are heading out onsite with BADGE Constructions with the message ‘watch your back’ which aims to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of skin cancer in men,” says Professor Brenda Wilson, Chief Executive Cancer Council SA.

    “The scary fact is that 77 South Australian men die from melanoma each year; that’s more than double the number of women which indicates that they don’t seem to be heeding the ‘check your skin’ message and then following up with their GP if they find anything unusual.

    “Although melanoma can develop anywhere on the body around 1 in 3 cases in men occur on the back, so friends and partners can play an important role in noticing skin changes too.

    “Your chances of surviving melanoma increases significantly the earlier it is detected so getting someone to help check your whole body, including your back, is vital,” said Professor Wilson.

    National Cancer Council figures released today also show that prevention messages are being ignored by older South Australian men. When it comes to wearing sunscreen, they fall below the already low national average of 24 per cent to 17 per cent.

    New local statistics confirm this with a 2011 Cancer Council survey showing only 10% of South Australian men aged 45 and over use the five sun protection measures (Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide) when protecting themselves from the sun. 

    Local survey statistics also show that nearly one in five South Australian men still got sunburnt at least once last summer and just over half (56%) checked their skin.

    Chair of the South Australian Faculty of Dermatology, Dr Jennifer Menz says she sees a lot of skin cancers in older men diagnosed at a later stage.

    “Too many South Australian men still have the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude when it comes to their health, let alone skin cancer.

    “Many men from this group missed out on sun protection messages growing up and have done a lot of damage to their skin as a result. Men need to be vigilant about checking their skin, particularly if they have worked outdoors and have any skin changes checked early.  ” said Dr Menz.

    BADGE Constructions is a great example of how the traditional outdoor workplace is taking the sun safety message seriously to protect the health of its employees.

    “Our industry is one that has a high level of exposure to the sun.  Our knowledge of the damage that the sun can cause on the health of construction workers has increased in recent years and we now take the issue of sun protection as seriously as operational safety on site.

    “In early 2011, we implemented a ‘long & longs policy’ whereby all of our staff are provided uniform with long sleeves and long pants to protect themselves from sun damage on our sites. We hope to see others in our industry follow suit to protect the health of their own employees,” said Nick Abley, State Manager for BADGE.

    “We supply all of our staff with wide brims for hard hats and we make sunscreen available on our sites for all visitors and workers to use.  To accompany our skin cancer preventative measures, we also provide all of our employees with regular skin checks in our offices.”

    This National Skin Cancer Action Week, tennis legends John Newcombe and Tony Roche have become the faces behind Cancer Council’s ‘Watch your back’ campaign. They have both had skin cancers and are lending their support this week by urging men aged 45 and over to always protect themselves in the sun and to check their entire body for skin changes.

    Ask your wife, partner or a mate to check your back, and anywhere else you can’t see yourself.

    Look for a new mole, or any change in shape, colour or size of a mole or spot and visit your doctor if you notice any changes.

    For information about skin cancer prevention and early detection call Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20

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