Incidence rates for melanoma (skin cancer) in Australia are the
highest in the world, are at levels matched only by New Zealand,
and are continuing to rise, according to a report published today
by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The report is based on data supplied by the State and Territory
Cancer in Australia 1995 shows that within Australia,
Queensland had the highest rates of melanoma (60 new cases per
100,000 population in men and 44 for women). These rates were
almost double those in Victoria.
Among the other States and Territories, Western Australian rates
were also high for both men and women, at 49 and 36 new cases per
Head of the AIHW Disease Registers Unit, Dr Paul Jelfs, said
that though the incidence figures were worrying enough, the fact
that melanoma rates were continuing to rise was potentially of
'There has been a strong increase in melanoma incidence in
Australian men over the last 10 years - of the order of 4.3% per
year. While the trend in women is not quite as strong at 1.8% per
year, it is rising nevertheless.
'On the positive side, a greater proportion of the melanomas
diagnosed are 'thin' melanomas, which have a better prognosis when
treated. And, it would appear that young people are heeding the Sun
Smart message because rates in younger people are not
'Based on the latest information we have, on average 1 in 26 men
and 1 in 36 women will be diagnosed with a melanoma before the age
of 75. There were 7,404 new cases diagnosed in 1995 (4,087 in males
and 3,317 in females).
'Exposure to UV radiation is an important risk factor in
melanoma. Early detection is vital in reducing deaths from this
Cancer in Australia 1995 shows that the most common
cancers in men are cancers of the prostate, bowel (colorectal), and
lung, and melanoma. In women the most common cancers are breast
cancer, bowel cancer, melanoma and lung cancer.
About one in three men and one in four women develop cancer
before the age of 75. In 1995 there were approximately 78,000 new
cases of cancer diagnosed (43,383 males and 34,822 females) and
33,500 deaths reported due to cancer.
Generally the risk of cancer increases with age, with nearly 60%
of cancers being diagnosed after the age of 65.
22 January 1999
Further information: Dr Paul Jelfs, ph. 02 6244
1140 or 04 0701 2520 (mobile).For media copies of the report: Publications
Officer, ph. 02 6244 1032.Availability: Check the AIHW for details.
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