2000 Australians die from SKIN CANCER each year of which three quarters are MELANOMA deaths

If skin cancer continues to increase at current rates, by 2020 more than 112,000 Victorian will develop skin cancer each year, with over 4,000 Victorians developing melanoma.

  • Third most common cause of cancer death after prostate and bowel cancer
  • Affect young and old people, but risk increases with advancing age
  • Caused by sun burn, especially in childhood
  • Fair skinned Europeans at greatest risk
  • Incidence rising
  • Most commonly appears as a new mole/dark spot on skin
  • Invades locally and also spreads to distant sites (metastasis)
  • 1 in 10 people diagnosed with melanoma will die from secondary spread to brain, lung, bone etc.
  • Secondary melanoma responds poorly  to chemotherapy or radiation treatment
  • Risk of secondary spread directly related to thickness of primary tumour at time of diagnosis
  • Melanoma most commonly begins thin and becomes thicker over time

Key message: Early diagnosis and treatment improves melanoma survival

Non-melanoma skin cancer (Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Cancer - BCC & SCC)

  • Most common form of cancer (more common than all other cancers combined)
  • Caused by accumulated exposure to sunlight over a lifetime
  • Fair skinned Europeans at greatest risk
  • Predominately affect elderly
  • Invades locally but rarely spreads to distant sites (metastasis) 
  • Low mortality among healthy Australians
  • Commonest cause of death among solid organ transplant recipients due to immunosuppression

Key Message: Early diagnosis and treatment reduces disease severity.

Incidence of skin cancer in Victoria is rising due to:

  • Delayed effect of changing sun exposure patterns from 1940s until 1990s (pre SunSmart)
  • Outdoor lifestyle
  • Ageing population (advancing age is the biggest risk factor for melanoma)






Supporting Melanoma and Skin Cancer