Bright spot in state’s melanoma emergency


THE number of Queenslanders admitted to hospital for skin cancer has tripled in the last five years.

New Medibank data has revealed a 177 per cent spike in patient admission, with 5670 last financial year.

Two in three Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70, and more than 2000 die across the nation each year.

Statistics from the Australian Cancer Council show that skin cancer accounts for about 80 per cent of newly diagnosed cancers and a majority are caused by exposure to the sun.

The risk of skin cancer rising with age, and greater community awareness of the importance of skin checks are likely to have contributed to the rise.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Skin Cancer in Australia report found that between 2006-2009, the highest number of new cases per population were reported in Queensland, followed by Western Australia and New South Wales.

Medibank's David Koczkar said that 70 per cent of those admitted to hospital nationally were 60 years of age and older.

"Medibank supported thousands of customers in Queensland through treatment for skin cancer last financial year, paying $19 million in benefits," he said.

Skin cancer treatment can include a diagnostic biopsy, removal of a skin cancer and in some cases using skin from other areas of the body to close the wound after the removal of the cancer.

Skin checks save lives
Skin checks save lives

"We know that Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and anyone can be at risk of developing it, with the risk increasing as you get older," Mr Koczkar said.

Queensland Health reports that the most deadly skin cancer, melanoma, is the most prevalent in Queensland, with one in 14 people likely to be diagnosed in their lifetime.

The survival rates are relatively high, and one in 20 cancer deaths is due to melanoma.

Melanoma is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among 15 to 39-year-olds, and the most common cause of cancer death among 20 to 39-year-olds.