Every year at the start of summer the Cancer Council Australia and the Australasian College of Dermatologists come together to host a national skin cancer action week.

This week is an awareness campaign as an important reminder to Australians of the significance of sun safety and early skin cancer detection. The 2020 National Skin Cancer Action Week is coming up in November, starting on Sunday the 15th of November to Saturday the 21st of November.

Why do we have a national skin cancer action week?

The need to campaign and raise awareness about skin cancer in Australia is critical, particularly because the statistics for skin cancer in Australia are quite dramatic. For example:

  • Two in three Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.
  • Every 4 minutes another Australian is diagnosed with skin cancer.
  • The Cancer Council estimates that Australia spends more than $1 billion per year treating skin cancer, with costs increasing substantially every year over the past few years.
  • Surveys show that one in four (26%) of teenagers between the age of 12-17 get sunburnt on summer weekends.

When was the last time you had a skin cancer check?

The Australian climate is known for its harsh sun and high UV, which makes it so important for people to know about sun protection and skin checks for the early detection of skin cancers.

Skin cancer has a 69% survival rate, and those odds are dramatically increased by early detection, making campaigns like this week a life-saving initiative. There is also an unhealthy tanning culture that spreads in the summertime with beachgoers often trying to get a 'healthy tan'. There is no such thing as a 'healthy tan' as tanning is a sign that you have been exposed to UV radiation at a level that has damaged your skin, increasing your risk of skin cancer. The skin cancer action week is a big part of combating this culture and ensuring Australians are aware of the importance of sun protection going into the summer months.

Why do we have a national skin cancer action week?

The events and campaigns that the Cancer Council runs changes every year. The 2020 event information has yet to be released, but in light of COVID-19 it is expected that many of the campaigns for awareness will run online.

Online campaigning was a big part of the 2019 week\''s activities with a big focus put on using the hashtag #OwnYourTone. It was a campaign specifically targeted at teenagers, encouraging them to be sun smart with sun protection and to be aware of the risk tanning brings for skin cancers.

The five forms of sun protection promoted by the Cancer Council includes:

  • Slip on sun-protective clothing.
  • Slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen.
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat.
  • Seek shade.
  • Slide on sunglasses.

When was the last time you had a skin cancer check?

Where can I find out more information?

The Cancer Council keeps a track of their events and campaigns on their website. As we begin to approach summer in Australia, it is likely that they will release more information soon. You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up to date with their events.