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COVID disruptions boost risk of undetected skin cancer

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Australians have delayed getting professional skin checks during the disruption of COVID and are putting themselves at risk of skin cancer going undetected, TAL says.

TAL’s latest annual SpotChecker Skin Safety Report, its sixth, reveals a quarter of Australians say the pandemic has prevented them from getting a skin check this year and distracted them from regularly self-checking their skin.

TAL GM of Health Services Priya Chagan says the research found 29% of Australians have never had a professional skin check, and only 36% have had one in the last 12 months. Around a fifth never self-check for signs of skin cancer.

Two-thirds of Australians are forecast to be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by the age of 70.

“It’s clear there is still a long way to go in raising awareness of the importance of prevention and detection of skin cancer,” Dr Chagan said. “It is crucial that Australians prioritise their health and understand the importance of prevention in living a healthy life.”

The report says NSW and Victoria, which faced greater COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, were more distracted from their usual skin-checking practices and also delayed visiting the doctor this year because of the pandemic.

More than 13,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma in Australia every year, and almost 980,000 new cases of Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinomas are treated annually.

“Our insights over the last six years do show a slight uptick in people self-checking their skin for signs of skin cancer and getting professional skin checks, but with COVID disrupting a number of preventative health practices this year, we need to get back on track as a country,” TAL’s report said.

The TAL SpotChecker Australian Skin Safety Report can be downloaded here.