Skin cancer is the most common
form of cancer in Australia and New Zealand – the incidence of
skin cancer is 4 times the incidence of all other cancers
combined. Skin cancer kills around 1600 people each year. It
is caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from
the sun, particularly during childhood. There are two broad
types of skin cancer:
In Australia over 8,800
people are diagnosed with melanoma each year and over 374,000
with non-melanoma skin cancer. One in every 2 people that grow
up in Australia is likely to suffer from skin
- Melanoma skin cancer
the least common but the
most serious type of skin cancer, resulting in about 75% of
deaths from skin cancer
- Non-melanoma skin cancer
the most common skin
cancer, resulting in about 25% of deaths – usually easily
treated, but can be serious if left untreated. Non-melanoma
skin cancer includes two subtypes: squamous cell carcinoma
and basal cell carcinoma.
Each year in New Zealand around 1,800 people
are diagnosed with melanoma and around 65,000 with
non-melanoma skin cancer.
Skin cancer costs the
Australian and New Zealand health systems over $300 million
Skin cancer signs to look out for
If you think you have skin
cancer you should see your doctor
immediately. The good news is that most skin
cancers can be cured if detected early and can be prevented if
you stay out of the sun.
- a crusty, non-healing sore
- a small lump which is red, pale or pearly in colour
- a new spot, freckle or mole changing in colour,
thickness or shape over a period of several weeks to months.
Give special attention to spots that are dark brown to
black, red or blue-black.
The organs affected by exposure
to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun are the skin and
eyes. In addition to skin cancer, UV radiation causes sunburn
and skin ageing.
Eye damage can occur as a result of
acute or prolonged UV radiation exposure. This damage
Some of these
conditions can lead to blindness.For more information about skin cancer, visit
- painful eye inflammation eg. snow blindness
- a growth over the cornea (pterygium)
- cloudiness of the lens (cataract)
- cancer on the surface of the eye.