New initiatives to target Queensland skin cancer rates

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
  • The Palaszczuk Government commits to combating skin cancer, through new sun safety campaign, Skin Cancer Early Detection (SCED) clinics and the launch of new shade tree planting guidance resources.
  • Queensland has the highest rates of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers in the world.
  • Queenslanders encouraged to adopt all five sun safe behaviours such as slip, slop, slap, seek, slide.

Queensland is working to strip itself of the unwanted title, world skin cancer capital, through introducing a range of new skin cancer prevention initiatives.

Amidst the alarming statistics of over 3,600 melanoma diagnoses and 350,000 non-melanoma skin cancer treatments in Queensland each year, Queensland Health has launched a new summer sun safety campaign.

The three-month campaign titled ‘Sunshine: You do the 5. You survive’, urges Queenslanders to embrace the five sun-safe behaviours – slip, slop, slap, seek, slide – through a mock horror movie called Sunshine.

Targeted at the often elusive 18-34 demographic, the campaign emphasises the severity of skin cancer risk and the vital role of the five sun-safe behaviours in mitigating this risk.

The campaign complements Queensland Health’s ongoing efforts to bolster skin cancer prevention and early detection.

Five additional Skin Cancer Early Detection (SCED) clinics will also be established in underserved regional towns as part of the additional $8.4 million funding announcement.

The SCED clinics will be operated by North West, South West, Central Queensland, Mackay and Townsville HHSs. The clinics are either free or low-cost for patients and are staffed by visiting qualified GPs between August 2023 and June 2024.

They follow the successful delivery of SCED clinics in Moura, Clermont, Karumba and Cloncurry earlier this year. Across the four clinics 76 people were seen earlier this year, with 30 of them having cancers that were detected and treated.

In addition to these efforts, Skin Cancer Prevention Queensland hosted an industry forum last month to discuss how to equip the dermal, hair, tattoo, and beauty industries with the skills to start conversations with clients about skin changes.

The forum brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from academia, research, clinical practice, government, non-government organisations, and industry.

Skin Cancer Prevention Queensland is now working towards embedding sun safety and skin cancer early detection into the professional training of individuals working in these industries.

Queensland Health also launched its new Healthy Places, Healthy People shade tree planting resources last month to provide guidance and support to state agencies, local councils, developers, and industry partners in their efforts to promote shade creation and enhance community well-being.

The resources, complemented by a sophisticated shade and UV analysis modeling tool, provide comprehensive guidance on maximising shade coverage and protection from ultraviolet radiation along footpaths, drawing upon insights from industry experts.

Quotes attributable to Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Shannon Fentiman:

“We know that Queensland has the highest rates of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers globally, and this is something we want to change.

“Skin cancer is largely preventable, and the most effective protection is to reduce exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

“The Sunshine: You do the 5. You survive campaign, with its fresh and engaging approach, will help reinforce the importance of adopting sun safe behaviours.

“Sun protection and seeking shade are crucial behaviours we want Queenslanders to embrace, particularly those between the ages of 18 and 34. Despite higher incidence rates in this age group, there is a misconception that they are at lower risk of melanoma.

“We know that hairdressers, beauticians, tattooists, and massage therapists see a lot of skin during their daily work and bringing them into these conversations is a vital step to help Queenslanders recognise changes and potentially reduce the impact of skin cancer.

“We will work closely with Skin Cancer Prevention Queensland and industry partners to integrate skin cancer prevention and early detection information into the education programs for these key professions.

/Public Release. View in full here.