Deadly disease stalking our Baby Boomers
WHEN Lynda Patten and her brother Warren were youngsters, there were no advertising blitzes and PR campaigns warning against the deadly risks associated with sun exposure.
Sadly, Lynda's brother Warren died from sun cancer while Lynda has had many melanomas removed over the years.
As younger generations benefit from the decades-old slip, slop, slap message Gympie's Baby Boomers have been found to be most at risk of melanoma.
In our region, about 460 people are diagnosed with melanomas each year.
It impacts men more than women, with 280 Gympie-Sunshine Coast males and 180 females told they have melanoma each year.
The Cancer Council of Queensland also says one in 14 residents will learn they have a melanoma by the age of 85.
Melanoma 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.
Cancer Council of Queensland CEO Chris McMillan said melanoma rates were stabilising or falling among residents aged under 60.
Ms McMillan said this was on the back of the Slip, Slop, Slap and Seek and Slide campaigns of the past 20 years.
"People aged 60 and over who did not grow up with prevention campaigns continue to experience higher rates of melanoma," she said.
"Melanomas that result from sun exposure can present many years after the damage is done."
Ms McMillan urged Gympie residents to get their skin checked regularly and to heed skin protection messages.
"(Residents should) get to know their own skin and if they notice a new spot or lesion, or a spot or lesion change in shape, colour or size, visit a GP immediately," she said.
A brother lost to melanoma inspires Lynda to share her story
AT 52 years old, Lynda Patten has had more than her fair share of pain and grief, thanks to the sun.
The Sunshine Coast grandmother lost her brother Warren to melanoma-related cancer in 1982.
Lynda has also had a number of close shaves with the disease over the years, with countless melanomas removed from her face, arm, chest and other parts of her body.
While her own close call with cancer was distressing, Lynda said watching 18-year-old Warren die of a preventable cancer still haunts her.
"Warren was only 16 when diagnosed with a melanoma on the back of his calf," she said.
"It was removed but, little did we know that it would metastasize and send out rogue cells all over his body.
"My dear brother passed away aged 18 on Christmas Eve - Christmas would never be the same for our family."
Lynda is turning her brother's story into hope for other Australians as she advocates for all Australians to have their skin checked regularly and to always cover up when outside.
"Melanoma does not discriminate," he said.
"Be aware of the warning signs and don't be afraid or embarrassed to be checked or asking for its removal and pathology."
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 in Sunshine Coast-Gympie
Each year at least:
460 local residents are diagnosed with melanoma.
280 male residents are diagnosed.
180 females are diagnosed.
One in 14 residents will be diagnosed with melanoma by the time they reach 85 years old.
Skin cancer costs the Australian economy $500m a year.
Source: Cancer Council Queensland and SunSmart.