Deadly disease stalking Baby Boomers
DID you know your age can reveal your skin cancer risk?
Take Louise Moran - she's 43 years old and thanks to absorbing sun exposure PR campaign messages throughout her life, she knows getting her skin checked and covering up outside are the key to avoiding one of the country's most avoidable cancers.
As generations benefit from the decades-old slip, slop, slap message, the Baby Boomers in the Northern Rivers have been found to be the group most at risk of melanoma.
About 430 people in Northern NSW are diagnosed with melanomas each year.
Melanoma impacts men more than women and each year at least 60 people in Byron, 60 in Ballina, 30 people from Richmond Valley, 50 Lismore locals and 12 people from Kyogle will be impacted by the disease.
The deadly cancer is estimated to cost our health system about $200 million a year and all skin cancers combined cost about $500 million a year - the biggest hit to our economy of all cancers.
The Cancer Institute of NSW expected five Lismore residents to die from the disease this year, Cancer Institute cancer prevention manager Kate Reakes said.
"People over 50 are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma," Ms Reakes said.
"It's important to realise that the effects of sun exposure are cumulative over a lifetime so when people of an older age are diagnosed it's from the damage that they've been getting every day across their lifetime.
"We know that people who have been active in protecting their skin using Slip, Slop, Slap or Seek and Slide, are at much less risk.
"Everyone of every age has to protect themselves."
Louise says scar is better than cancer fight
LOUISE Moran says a scar on her face is a small price to pay for living a longer life.
The 43-year-old registered nurse survived a melanoma scare and she hopes her story will inspire Warwick residents to think about their skin when in the sun.
In September 2017, Louise had her skin checked after noticing one small freckle under her eye had changed significantly.
A doctor took a small scrape of skin and sent it for testing, with the results showing the melanoma was malignant.
The mother of two went to a plastic surgeon who removed a 50 cent-size piece of facial tissue to ensure the entire melanoma was gone.
The doctor then covered the area with a graft of skin from Louise's neck.
Louise said she was concerned about the surgery permanently marking her face.
"It took a bit to get over because I feared I would have a droopy eye," she said.
"But it's actually healed really well and you cannot really see it - I'm very lucky.
"It was either a scar on my face or cancer - removing it was a no-brainer."
Louise said it was important for people to get their skin checked and to be sun-safe.
"Just make sure you follow the message of the Cancer Council - slip, slop, slap, seek and slide."
Slip, slop, snap! Selfies making skin safe
SELFIES are the latest tool in the fight against melanoma.
New research shows about a quarter of Aussies are using selfies to monitor skin changes.
The Miiskin-commissioned survey of 1000 Australians found 21 per cent took photos of their skin regularly.
Miiskin is a free Apple and Android app designed to help people monitor their skin changes.
The company's CEO Jon Friis said the app was not a replacement for medical care but it could be a useful tool in the fight against skin cancer.
"Awareness of the importance of skin monitoring is increasing, with many people now documenting changes to their skin's appearance," Mr Friis said.
"Technology ... can help people spot significant changes occurring on their own skin." - NewsRegional
AT A GLANCE
Melanoma rates across Northern NSW
- 45 Byron residents are diagnosed with melanoma each year and three people die of the disease.
- 60 Ballina residents are diagnosed with melanoma each year and five people die of the disease.
- 30 Richmond Valley residents are diagnosed with melanoma each year and two people die of the disease.
- 50 Lismore residents are diagnosed with melanoma each year and five people die of the disease.
- 12 Kyogle residents are diagnosed with melanoma each year.
- 70 Clarence Valley residents are diagnosed with melanoma each year and five people die of the disease.
- 84 Coffs Harbour residents are diagnosed with melanoma each year and nine people die of the disease.
- Skin cancer costs the Australian economy $500m a year.
Source: Cancer Institute of NSW and SunSmart.