FORMER test cricketer Peter Taylor and Federal Member for Parkes and Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton have this week issued a national appeal for farmers, graziers and others who work outdoors to get themselves checked for non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC).
Their appeal is part of the Hidden in Broad Daylight campaign, developed to respond to the The burden of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer in Australia report, which reveals up to 1700 Australians this year are estimated to die from advanced NMSC.
The vast majority of those are either cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) or basal cell carcinoma (BCC).
They account for 97 per cent of all skin cancers, equivalent to 570,000 cases, per year in Australia.
While most NMSC are not life-threatening, an equivalent average of 4.66 Australians die from advanced NMSC per day.
Cover up, get checked
Mr Taylor has been a farmer since 1990, and is now in the midst of harvest on his property at Gurley in northern New South Wales.
“I’ve had non-melanoma skin cancers cut out, and I’ve had them burnt off and I didn’t know that it could be life threatening, to be honest,” he said.
“I thought melanoma was the big one, and that was really all I knew about, but it turns out non-melanoma skin cancer can be just as fatal.”
The mortality rate for melanoma appears to have declined over the last few years, possibly due to greater awareness among the general population.
Melanomas are typically dark in colour, while CSCC and BCC typically have a reddish appearance, and may not spark alarm to the untrained eye.
“They’re hidden in broad daylight.”
“We are appealing to farmers to do the right thing – cover up and get your skin checked regularly.”
“Don’t get bowled over.”
Farmers at risk
The Hidden in Broad Daylight campaign has targeted farmers as a group at increased risk from developing NMSC because of the time they spend exposed to ultraviolet light, the cause of 95pc of skin cancers.
“During heavy work periods like harvest season, us farmers are out in the sun a lot, sometimes all day.
“When it’s on, it’s on and farmers and graziers are all the same.”
Results released in 2016 of a European study showed outdoor workers including farmers were 2.7 times more likely to develop skin cancer than indoor workers, and the figure increased for people who had worked outdoors for more than five years.
“With many farming communities right across the Parkes electorate busy with harvest and often working long hours in the sun, it’s a timely reminder for us all to get our skin checked,” Mr Coulton said.
“Having been a farmer myself, I know the days can be long and it’s easy to forget about things like skin protection.
“I urge everyone in the Parkes electorate, and in our farming communities around Australia, to get their skin checked and remind friends and family to do the same.”
Australia is estimated to have the highest rate of skin cancers in the world, with two out of three Australians diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer by the age of 70.
The burden of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer in Australia has been released by pharmaceutical company Sanofi Australia and New Zealand in consultation with Rare Cancers Australia and leading cancer specialists, and with analyses conducted by PwC Australia.
In response to the report, there are calls for better public awareness, more comprehensive data collection and improved patient access to medicines.
Source: Mark Coulton MP