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Combatting Australia’s ‘national cancer’

When it comes to skin cancer we need to do more to protect all Australians from the sun

Combatting Australia’s ‘national cancer’

National Skin Cancer Action Week (20-26 November) highlights that we need to do more to promote sun protection.

Often called our ‘national cancer’, Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, with approximately two in three Australians diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime. Sadly, around 2000 Australians will die from this disease this year, and it is estimated that almost twice as many men as women will die from melanoma this year alone.

Yet research shows that many Australians, particularly men, aren’t regularly using all five forms of sun protection. This year, Cancer Council Australia in partnership with the Australasian College of Dermatologists, is urging all Australians, especially men aged over 40, to be SunSmart and reduce their risk of developing skin cancer.

Over-exposure to UV radiation causes 95% of melanomas. In every region across Australia, it is likely to reach extreme levels of UV over the summer months. We encourage Australians to check the UV before you head outside, on the SunSmart app, via the Bureau of Meteorology’s website or your local weather forecast.

Fortunately, most skin cancers can be prevented by using all five forms of sun protection when the UV level is 3 or higher:  

  • Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible. 
  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen. Apply 20 minutes before going outdoors and every two hours afterwards.  
  • Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.  
  • Seek shade. 
  • Slide on sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards

To mark the start of National Skin Cancer Action Week, the Australian Government has announced a two-year multi-million dollar skin cancer prevention campaign. Working in partnership with the Australian Government, Cancer Council Australia is delighted to be delivering this national campaign highlighting the importance of being SunSmart. We thank the Australian Government for their dedication to improving cancer outcomes for all Australians.  

The campaign will launch in November 30, targeting all Australians, with a particular focus this year on men aged 40-59 who research shows practice lower levels of sun safe behaviours. You can find some of the creative that will soon appear on your social media and TV screens below.


Download our National Skin Cancer Action Week assets here



Watch the TV ad