Global statistics show melanoma skin cancer is set to reach epidemic proportion
Global cases of melanoma skin cancer will reach nearly half a million (466,914) by 2040, an increase of 62% on 2018 figures
Australian cases of melanoma skin cancer will reach 21,394 by 2040, an increase of 50% on 2018 figures
92% of people recognise that sun exposure can cause health problems, but 61% of people believe having tanned skin is attractive Australia maintains its dubious crown as melanoma skin cancer capital of the world in figures released in a new report today at the start of World Melanoma Month.
The report ‘2020 Melanoma Skin Cancer Report: Stemming the Global Epidemic,’ identifies three key battlegrounds for fighting melanoma; the need to improve public awareness of melanoma risk factors; reducing intentional tanning; and making skin self-examinations a regular habit. Figures gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that in 2018, there were 14,260 cases of melanoma skin cancer diagnosed in Australia. This translated to 1,602 deaths from melanoma skin cancer. WHO predicts that by 2025, the number of cases of melanoma skin cancer will rise by 16% to 16,532 with deaths increasing by 19% to 1,913. By 2040, nearly 21,394 people will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer, a 50% increase on 2018 figures, while 2,691 will die from the disease (68% increase). The figures are aligned to Australia forecast population growth and represent a significant public health problem. Globally, incidence of melanoma skin cancer was found to have reached epidemic proportions. Cases of melanoma skin cancer are predicted to rise from 287,723 in 2018 to 340,271 in 2025 an increase of 18%. By 2040, cases will reach nearly half a million (466,914), an increase of 62%. Deaths will rise 20% from 60,712 in 2018 to 72,886 in 2025 and will reach 105,904, a 74% increase, in 2040.
“The predictions by WHO are shocking and must serve as a wake-up call to show that action is needed to tackle the global melanoma epidemic,” said Victoria Beedle CEO of Melanoma Patients Australia, and a member of the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy that co-commissioned the report with Euromelanoma.
Prof Mark Smithers AM, Melanoma Patients Australia Medical Advisor commented “Despite a widespread understanding of the link between UV exposure and melanoma, the research shows that knowledge is not translating into action. 92% of people recognised that sun exposure can cause health problems, but only 18% always protect their skin from the sun.1 and in fact an Australian study shows that 20% of people already diagnosed with melanoma did not adapt sun safety practice.”
Melanoma patient advocate and actress Jessica Stafford has learnt the hard way that there is no such thing as a safe tan and said “ I am deeply saddened but not surprised that the report shows that 61% of people believe having tanned skin is attractive and 49% cannot imagine coming back from holiday without a tan.
“I was one of these people until 2016 when my Doctor found a suspicious mole that turned out to be melanoma.”
Only 11% of people have their moles checked by a dermatologist and only 33% have checked their own skin annually,1 despite dermatologists recommending that self-skin examinations should be carried out every four weeks.
Jessica Stafford added: “As a model and actress there was a lot of pressure on me to have the golden tanned look, the quintessential Aussie beach girl. I now know just how dangerous this was.” Victoria Beedle added:
“We are really worried that during this period of COVID-19 restrictions that people are spending way more time outdoors in the garden and exercising and that there is another invisible enemy called UV that we all need to protect against. Melanoma is one of the few cancers where we can definitively identify its cause and that means it is largely preventable. Predictions are just that, predictions; but to stop them becoming a reality, we need action – now.
“The ‘220 Melanoma Skin Cancer Report’ demonstrates that we need to change mindsets and behaviours. It’s time to abandon beauty standards that say having a tan is sexy. It can also be deadly. Everyone should be protecting their skin when the UV is more than 3 and self-checking their skin on a monthly basis”.
The publication of the ‘2020 Melanoma Skin Cancer Report: Stemming the Global Epidemic’ coincides with the launch of a public awareness campaign during World Melanoma Month The campaign will run in over 50 countries worldwide.