“At least 2 out of 3 Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70.” (Skin Cancer in Australia). This is crazy to think about, it means that two-thirds of Australia’s population would have suffered from skin cancer at some point in their life. Something must be done to stop this problem before it gets worse. Goal 3 in the United Nations Sustainable Goals is “Good Health and Well-Being” (Sustainable Development Goals). This goal aims to provide health care to everyone globally and ensure that everyone lives a healthy life. Raising awareness of a certain type of disease that can potentially affect one’s health is a crucial step, in this case, it is raising awareness about skin cancer in Australia. Skin cancer has been a major problem in Australia for many decades now, over the years, governments, communities, and organizations have been experimenting and innovating in solutions to raise awareness of skin cancer, and researchers are actively trying to find better and more effective solutions to decrease the population of skin cancer patients in Australia.

 

The population of Skin Cancer Patients in Australia

 

Figure 1 A picture of Australia from a space view

To begin with, there is a significant population in Australia that suffers from skin cancer every year and it has become a major problem that all Australians face.

Research shows that “Western Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world with over 1,300 people diagnosed each year.” (Skin Cancer in Australia). The large population of skin cancer patients is certainly concerning, in 2021, 64 in every 100,000 Australian suffered from skin cancer. This is a shocking number, a number never like before. In the previous years, for example, from 2005 to 2009, only 33 out of every 100000 Australians were diagnosed with skin cancer. (“Skin Cancer in Australia”). The huge increase in the number of patients clearly reflects how skin cancer is becoming a serious problem in Australia. Some might think that skin cancer had only become a common problem in recent years, however, it had been noticed since the 1960s-1980s (Radiation: Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation). As for a fact, Australia has a very hot and sometimes humid climate, so it makes sense that there is a blazing sun all year round across the country, and Australians are known to have a passion for outdoor sports, events, or even just sunbathing (Skin Cancer in Australia). These are also reasons why Australia has a large population of skin cancer patients. The country always had a hot climate, so the people in the past decades would have naturally been exposed to strong sunlight and UV rays as well. It has only become a problem people talk about more commonly in the past decade because of the research that has been going on and the topic of ‘skin cancer’ that is much more talked about these days. So, skin cancer has been quite a serious problem since the 1900s, and it is only been more formally addressed recently.

 

Solutions and Actions

 

Figure 2 The SunSmart guide to the sun and UV ray protection

 Moreover, since skin cancer is becoming a more threatening problem in Australia, people and groups took action to address the problem.

Communities and organizations around Australia tried to find solutions and develop plans as to how to raise awareness of skin cancer. Measures are put in place around communities in hopes that it will alert the public and remind them to take action and prevent skin cancer from affecting them. Some advice they listed were staying in the shade, using broad-spectrum sunscreen on exposed skin, wearing broad-brimmed hats, etc. (Skin Cancer in Australia). As a fact, a mature and final plan for raising awareness of skin cancer is yet to be developed, but strategic research has been done to answer some of the questions surrounding the topic. Researchers have found that some people with certain characteristics are more likely to get skin cancer than others. Some risk factors for skin cancer are fair skin, light-colored hair, freckles, and people with a history of severe sunburn. (“Radiation: Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation”). It is specified that people with these characteristics should be more careful when being exposed to the sun and UV rays because they are more vulnerable than others. The problem of skin cancer has caught the attention of the National Government as well and the Government put measures in place, such as, encouraging regulated skin check-ins and setting up protocols in schools to help raise awareness. (Green Square Dermatology). Actions are taken to raise awareness of skin cancer in Australia, communities, organizations, and the Governments are all in to help lower the skin cancer rate and save more people from suffering.

 

Future Plans

 

Figure 3 Photo of people sunbathing, tanning, relaxing, etc. on a beach at Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

In addition, although plans and solutions have already been created and attempted, more needs to be done.

Action had already been taken to address the skin cancer problem in Australia, but more can be done, and here is how. Australians love a good tan, whether that is out on the beach or on an artificial tanning (sun)bed, but many do not understand the risk of tanning under the sun if there is no proper protection for the skin. Some Australians, even when they knew the risk beforehand, choose to tan without sunscreen or any form of protection. Seeing that this was a severe problem, in 2016, all six Australian states had banned commercial sunbed usage, in hopes that fewer people will tan artificially (Anderson). As said before, “public health campaigns are useful” (Anderson), but it does not capture attention enough to make a big difference. Banning commercial sunbeds helps raise awareness of skin cancer dramatically all-around Australia, “more people in Australia read about melanoma- the most lethal type of skin cancer – on the internet and looked for alternatives, such as spray tans.” (Reynolds). People’s misconception about tanning on sunbeds was safely cleared up and they finally started to realize the damage UV rays and sunlight can cause to their skin, it can be deadly. Seeing that the sunbed ban was very effective, the states in Australia implemented public awareness programs to educate people more about what harm ‘too much’ sunlight can do. Focusing on children’s education so they can be aware from the very beginning (Reynolds). Australia has taken a big step forward in raising awareness about skin cancer, but there is much more that needs to be done. Statistics show that an estimated number of 16878 people was diagnosed with melanoma alone in the year 2021, and the death count from all types of cancer in 2021 is 1315 (Melanoma of the skin). That is a horrifying number to think about. More people need to be educated, more plans should be made, and more actions need to be taken. If Australia wants to see a significant change, more needs to be done.

Figure 4 Photo of a sunbed

In conclusion, skin cancer should be a topic more Australians are educated about because it is affecting many people, work has already been done but there is much more to do to make a change. If SDG goal 3 is to be accomplished by 2030, it is crucial that we pay attention to the topic of skin cancer in Australia now. It is the little things that together, achieve things much greater, and we should all work together to help Australia become more aware of the issue. Australia is not the only country that is affected by skin cancer, many other countries are affected as well, countries such as the US also have a significant population of skin cancer patients (Reynolds). If this problem is not taken seriously, the whole world could end up being a victim of skin cancer, which is something no one wants to see. Therefore, everyone should work together and raise awareness about the topic of skin cancer in Australia.

 

Works Cited

Anderson, Tatum. “Restricting the Use of Sunbeds to Prevent Skin Cancer.” World Health Organization, Dec. 2017. SIRS Issues Researcher, explore.proquest.com/sirsissuesresearcher/document/2263354708?accountid=4047.

“Melanoma of the Skin.” Cancer Australia, 5 Jan. 2022, www.canceraustralia.gov.au/cancer-types/melanoma/statistics. Accessed 30 May 2022.

“Radiation: Ultraviolet (UV) radiation and skin cancer.” World Health Organization, 16 Oct. 2017, www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/radiation-ultraviolet-(uv)-radiation-and-skin-cancer. Accessed 16 May 2022.

Reynolds, Tom. “Sun Plays Havoc with Light Skin down under.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 1992. SIRS Issues Researcher, explore.proquest.com/sirsissuesresearcher/document/2249900484?accountid=4047.

“Skin Cancer in Australia.” Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 13 July 2016, www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/skin-cancer-in-australia/summary-1. Accessed 29 May 2022.

“Skin Cancer in Australia.” Cancer Council ACT, actcancer.org/prevention/sunsmart/skin-cancer-in-australia/#:~:text=Melanoma%20in%20Australia,%2C%20bowel%20and%20breast%20cancer). Accessed 12 May 2022.

“Sustainable Development Goals.” United Nations Development Programme, www.undp.org/sustainable-development-goals. Accessed 29 May 2022.

 

Image Sources

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-07/tourism-provides-backbone-to-gold-coast-economy/11351372

https://www.thejournal.ie/sunbed-ban-australia-1858254-Dec2014/

https://newatlas.com/energy/sun-cable-australia-singapore-solar-undersea-powerlink/

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