Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Our temperatures are high and our skies are clear. With blistering heat during summer, most of us are becoming aware of the risks that long term sun exposure can have. When a recent study was undertaken called The Skin Cancer Susceptibility Index for various countries, the results were interesting. Countries were ranked from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest skin cancer incidence score. Other factors considered were skin tone, and UV factor.
Our neighbours in New Zealand actually ranked (slightly) worse than those of us in Australia for skin cancer incidences per population. They received a 10, while Australia came in on the scale at 9.67. However, our UV factor scored a 7.35 which was the highest of all countries, New Zealand followed at 6.88.
Next on the list was Switzerland and Sweden who both ranked at 5.89, Norway at 5.71 and Netherlands at 5.60. Denmark performed slightly better at 5.57, Slovenia next at 5.19, the US at 4.62 and the UK at 4.60. Some of these statistics may be surprising, except for the UK who consider multiple days in the 20s to be abnormally hot.
More than 3 million non melanoma and 150,000 melanoma cancers are diagnosed each year. One in every 3 cancers diagnosed is actually melanoma. The US sees around 72,000 cases of the skin cancer annually, and spends 9 billion dollars on treatment during the same period. This spending has resulted in the US having one of the lowest mortality rates from melanoma, at 14%. Australia is still slightly better with a mortality rate of just 13%.
Germany has 16,884 cases of melanoma annually, and Australia has 12,265. Every 10 minutes one person dies of the disease somewhere in the world.
Montenegro has a low rating of 1.59 and only 23 melanomas diagnosed per year. Despite this, the mortality rate is around 30% which is more than double that of Australia. Albania came in with a score of 1.20, with 38 melanomas diagnosed each year and a high mortality rate of 58%. While their citizens are far less likely to get the disease, if they do fall victim it will be more difficult to treat.
Nigeria doesn’t fare so well with less than adequate treatment available. The rate of death from the disease is 5 times higher than it is in Australia, as their mortality rate is 67%. Other countries with high mortality rates from melanoma include Pakistan and China who both have 63%, Bangladesh has 62% and Poland with 52%.
Although the skin cancer risk in Australia is so high, we are becoming more aware. One of the best ways to prevent melanoma and other skin cancers is with sun protection and regular skin and mole checks. The sooner skin cancer is detected, the better the outcome will be.
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