Third year UTS journalism student with an interest in culture, education and social justice. Tweet me @TallulahMT.
Australian men are being urged to get their skin checked, as a new survey finds they are likely to underestimate their risk of skin cancer.
Less than one-in-three men consider themselves at high risk of skin cancer despite 82 per cent reporting at least one known risk factor, according to new findings released today by the Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD).
The survey also found most Australian men have postponed doctor appointments, even when concerned about a health issue.
“We are noticing they present later to see a dermatologist for a skin check than perhaps women would, and often they are presenting with skin cancers that can be at quite an advanced stage,” Dr Alexandra Varol, Dermatologist and ACD Fellow said.
"I just thought maybe it was a blister and I wasn’t concerned about it ..."
This was the case for Southern Highlands father of four, Jay Allen, who at 32 years old, was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma after his then fiancé persuaded him to have an infected mole on his ankle looked at.
The melanoma was 1.95 millimetres deep and had spread to his lymph nodes in his groin, which required surgery that left a scar from his stomach to his thigh.
“I just thought maybe it was a blister and I wasn’t concerned about it … if I wasn’t with [my fiance], there’s no way I would’ve gone to get it checked and I probably wouldn’t be alive today,” Mr Allen, 43, said.
Despite his red hair, fair skin and having often used solariums in his youth, Mr Allen did not know he was at a high risk of skin cancer.
But as a community consultant for Melanoma Institute Australia, he now educates young people about sun safety.
“Had someone come to my school and talked about their disease and how to prevent it, I certainly would have got my skin checked earlier,” he said.
While skin cancer is the most common cancer in Australia, Liz King, skin cancer prevention manager at Cancer Council NSW said it was largely preventable.
“What people don’t realise is that UV radiation is responsible for over 95 per cent of skin cancers in Australia … if we protect our skin from UV damage, we can help prevent skin cancer,” she said.
Twenty per cent of all cancer cases are melanoma in young Australians aged 15-39
“At any age everyone needs to practice good sun protection behaviours,” Ms King said.
For best protection from harmful UV rays, Cancer Council Australia recommends to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.