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Melanoma rates dropping in young Queenslanders

Scientists from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Cancer Council Queensland have published new figures showing that melanoma rates are falling in young Queenslanders.

The study, led by QIMR Berghofer’s Professor Adele Green, found that rates among 15-24 year olds have dropped by an average of almost 5% since the mid 1990s.

“These results bring more evidence that decades of sun-safe messages finally seem to be having an impact, Professor Green said.

“But the bottom line is that, despite this welcome trend, we must maintain our sun-safe messages, and children and young people need to keep being “sun aware” because much of the long-term damage is sustained in our early years.”

This study, published online in the International Journal of Cancer, follows research published last month by QIMR Berghofer which found that keratinocyte skin cancer rates – basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma – have also been dropping among young people across Australia.

This latest study is the first to provide detailed analysis of melanoma incidence in young people in Queensland, focussing on statistics from people aged 15-24 from 1982 to 2010.

As expected in the state’s sunny climate, young Queenslanders are still up to five times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than young people in the US or Europe.

“However the risk of death due to melanoma in this age group is generally low except among a small proportion of cases whose melanomas were already more than 1 mm thick when diagnosed,” Professor Green said.

“This generally favourable outcome is likely due, in large part, to early detection, resulting from increased skin cancer awareness.”

This research was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and can be viewed online at