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  • Most Australians will develop skin cancer

    Author: AAP

More than two-thirds of Australians will develop common skin cancers with 500 deaths every year, making the country the 'skin cancer capital of the world'.

A paper published on Thursday in the journal Public Health Research & Practice, found 69 per cent of Australians will have at least one excision for a keratinocyte cancer in their lifetime.

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That's an increase of up to six per cent a year over the past three decades, mostly affecting older age groups.

"This high and increasing burden of skin cancer emphasises the need for continued investment in skin cancer education and prevention," the paper's researchers said.

The Cancer Council estimates that 2000 Australians die from skin cancer every year, with the nation having one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

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Keratinocyte cancers, also known as non-melanoma skin cancers, are the most common cancers in Australia.

They are comprised of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

BCCs grow slowly in the lower levels of the skin's epidermis and make up at least two thirds of all skin cancers, while one third of skin cancers are SCCs, that grow rapidly in the upper layer of the epidermis.

Medicare records show there were more than one million treatments for BCCs and SCCs in 2018, according to the Cancer Council.

The paper's authors called for measures to address the growing problem including national media campaigns, protecting children and workers from the harms of overexposure to sunlight and access to more shade in public spaces.

Unlike melanomas, data on keratinocyte cancers is not recorded in state and territory cancer registries, except in Tasmania.

They recommend a national registry to monitor trends.

The journal's guest editors urged authorities to do more to combat the nation's high incidence of skin cancer.

"We know what needs to be done. Now is the time to do it so that one day Australia is no longer considered the skin cancer capital of the world," they said.

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