People’s awareness of the deadly cancer had grown, with 98 per cent correctly identifying exposure to the sun as a risk factor, along with solarium and sun bed use 93 per cent, having a family history of melanoma 79 per cent and colour of your skin 76 per cent.
Melanoma Patients Australia CEO Will Kerkhof said Australia was the world melanoma capital of the world and more needed to be done to encourage early detection.
Australia has the highest incidence rates for melanoma in the world and it is expected to increase from 12,770 cases last year to 17,570 cases in 2020, with the average survival rate six months with a 75 per cent death rate at one year.
Peter Lynn, 69, from Coal Point, south of Newcastle, had his first melanoma detected on his left upper arm in 1984.
He had a second primary melanoma detected in 2007 just behind his left knee, which was only a pin head followed by a more recent diagnosis of metastatic melanoma in 2009.
Melanoma has deeply impacted Mr Lynn and his wife Margaret who also lost their eldest son David, 38, a father of two, to melanoma in January 2009, after he was diagnosed in 2006.
Just six weeks after David’s death, they discovered that there was a melanoma in Mr Lynn’s lymph nodes in his leg, and tumours in his heart, lung and diaphragm that could not be operated on.
Mr Lynn said he has had to learn to live with melanoma, and he urged everyone to have their skin checked and to be vigilant.
“Gradually I’ve had to change everything I do. I’m able to live with it and make the best of what I’ve got,” Mr Lynn said.
“People must get their skin checked regularly. Your partner must check along with your doctor. People must be aware of what happens because the earlier it is determined, the better it is for everyone.”
Mr Lynn has been part of clinical trials which has reportedly reduced his tumours by more than 60 per cent.
“It has shrunk my tumours and kept them shrunk, and more importantly I have no new ones. That’s the good news story. I’m still alive thanks to modern research,” he said.
Melanoma Patients Australia CEO Will Kerkhof said Australia was the melanoma capital of the world and more needed to be done to encourage early detection.
“For us the survey results are a bit concerning, especially in Australia where there’s a high amount of melanomas and skin cancers,” Mr Kerkhof said.
“If detected early there’s a lot better chance of survival.”
Head of the Joint Austin Ludwig Oncology Unit in Melbourne, Professor Jonathan Cebon said there were some promising new treatments for advanced melanoma, and that nteearly detection was very important.
“I think people are aware of melanoma, and I think if people find something on their skin they get it checked. But people also think it’s a risk for someone else not for them,” Professor Cebon said.