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New report highlights importance of skin cancer prevention campaigns

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has welcomed new figures out today, which reinforce that melanoma rates are falling in Australians under the age of 40.

The report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found that melanoma rates in Australians under 40 have dropped from 13 cases per 100,000 people in 2002, to about 9 cases per 100,000 people in 2016.

The findings support research conducted by QIMR Berghofer’s Professor David Whiteman, which found that melanoma rates were declining in people under the age of 50.

Professor Whiteman has also previously found that rates of non-melanoma skin cancer are falling among Australians under the age of 45.

“It is very heartening to see more evidence that melanoma rates are declining among younger Australians,” Professor Whiteman said.

“However, this report also confirms QIMR Berghofer’s findings that Australia’s overall melanoma rates are among the highest in the world, and that the overall number of melanomas diagnosed in Australia is still increasing.

“This means that Australians cannot afford to become complacent. It’s important that people continue to slip, slop, slap, and, where possible, stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.

Professor Adele Green, the head of the Cancer and Populations Studies Group at QIMR Berghofer, was the first person to scientifically prove that daily sunscreen use can prevent melanoma in adults. Her research provided some of the evidence behind promoting the use of sunscreen in sun safety campaigns.

“We have attributed a lot of the decline in melanoma rates among younger Australians to primary prevention campaigns since the 1980s, and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has also suggested that these campaigns could be a factor,” Professor Whiteman said.