Melanoma figures a warning to older generations

New statistics released yesterday by the Cancer Council Victoria shows melanoma incidence rates continue to rise in Victoria and older men are the most at risk.

The statistics show:

  • Victorians aged 55 or over account for two-thirds of melanoma diagnoses
  • The 60-64 age group are recording the highest incidence in men and women
  • The highest rates are in men over 60

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s associate professor Grant McArthur said the data is indicating an emerging public health issue in men over 60.

"While prevention remains fundamental to minimise UV overexposure at every age, what we are finding is that the melanoma disease in this older age group is quite distinct and more research into this type of melanoma is crucial for treatment," he said.

In Victoria, melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in men and the third most common in women. It is the fifth most common cancer overall.

SunSmart manager, Sue Heward at Cancer Council Victoria, said the trend data does show some positive age-based declines, with melanoma rates now falling in men and women under 40 years and the rate of increase slowing in older age groups.

"People should not be fooled into thinking that it is too late or that all the damage has already been done - using sun protection and getting to know your skin matters regardless of age,’’ she said.

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