$288,500 Healthway grant for Surfing WA skin cancer prevention program
New data links SunSmart campaign to big drop in youth melanoma rates, while seniors' skin cancer rates continue to rise
Liberal National Government investment aims to reduce suffering and save lives
A skin cancer prevention program targeting young West Australian surfers has been boosted by more than $288,000 in Healthway funding, as new data highlights big drops in WA youth melanoma rates.
Announcing the funding today, Health Minister John Day said the research showed the importance of promoting the SunSmart message to young people involved in outdoor activities such as Surfing WA's Learn to Surf program.
"The data reveals that over the past 15 years, melanoma rates have more than halved among West Australians aged 15 to 39," Mr Day said.
"These are the young people who have grown up with sun protection campaigns like SunSmart.
"Melanoma is by far the most serious form of skin cancer and it is heartening to see that among young women, the incidence has fallen from 31 cases per 100,000 to just 13. With young men, there are now 10 cases per 100,000, down from 26, 15 years ago."
On the other hand, melanoma rates continue to increase in people aged over 60, the generation that had no early exposure to campaigns such as SunSmart or Slip, Slop, Slap.
"SunSmart is a sound public health investment," the Minister said.
"It reduces suffering and saves lives, while every dollar spent on prevention saves an estimated $2.30 in treatment expenses.
"Medication costs alone for treating stage 4 melanoma can exceed $150,000 per patient, so the more skin cancers we can prevent, the better it is for the community and for taxpayers."
Mr Day said Surfing WA was increasingly using social media to communicate the importance of skin cancer prevention to young people, while surf coaches constantly checked and trained rookie surfers in the best ways to maintain sun protection.
"Unfortunately, research shows that two in every three West Australians will develop skin cancer before they turn 70," he said.
"So, while we are making headway in the skin cancer battle, the fight must go on and it starts with teaching young people risk-reducing strategies that could one day save their lives."
The SunSmart campaign is run by the Cancer Council with funding from the State Government through the Department of Health of $441,000 a year and an $800,000 Healthway grant over three years
In addition, in 2015-16, Healthway sponsored 31 community events and activities worth $1.2 million to promote the SunSmart skin cancer prevention message
Minister's office - 6552 6200