Youth of New South Wales is surprisingly unaware of melanoma risk

Despite substantial efforts to increase awareness and educate Australians about the harmful effects of UV rays, some of the population just isn’t taking the necessary precautions. According to new figures from the Cancer Institute NSW, the highest rates of melanoma were recorded in the health district of Northern New South Wales. Young people seem to be unaware of the melanoma risk brought about by their actions, specifically in Clarence Valley and Kyogle where there are the highest recorded rates of melanoma-related mortalities.

Survey results

This finding comes in light of recent figures that show similar sentiments of younger people. Of those surveyed by the Cancer Institute NSW’s 2015 Skin Cancer Online Tracking Survey, only 36% of young people said that they regularly apply sunscreen before going out and just over 40% said that they forget to protect themselves from the sun. The following were their cited reasons: 26% said they couldn’t be bothered and 22% said they didn’t have the time. Surprisingly, 15% of them even declared that sun protection was unfashionable.

Despite 75% of those surveyed claiming that they know they need to protect themselves, 40% claimed that they forget to and only a quarter of them admit to regularly reapplying sunscreen every two hours when outdoors.

Surprisingly low awareness

Young people continue to be a challenging demographic to change behavior and attitudes surrounding skin cancer. According to the NSW, only half worry about developing skin cancer in the future and only one in ten of those surveyed don’t think that melanoma is a serious health problem.

The Cancer Institute NSW launched The Pretty Shady campaign two years ago to encourage young Aussies to be part of the generation that stops skin cancer. With the rise of skin cancer detection apps such as SkinVision, this generation has the tools to do this.

This demographic will continue to be a challenge for health educators and skin cancer initiatives to tackle. However, efforts such as The Pretty Shady campaign and apps like SkinVision will allow young people to take more control over their own health journey.

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