An “incoming tsunami” of melanoma cases is predicted for Australia in the coming decades, prompting calls for more training of doctors to help with diagnosis.
The predictions are based on recently published research, which showed that global cases of melanoma are expected to increase by 50% and deaths will increase by 68% over the next 20 years.
“It’s a red flag for us to look forward and say, are we ready for what’s to come?” Queensland-based radiation epidemiologist Michael Kimlin told AAP on Tuesday.
“Australia currently has by far the highest rates of skin cancer and melanoma in the world.
“This is due to our predominantly light-skinned population, our outdoor lifestyle, but most importantly, our massive levels of ultraviolet radiation, which is a major risk factor for skin cancer and melanoma. “
Professor Kimlin said his colleagues were concerned about an “imminent skills shortage in Australia to deal with this impending tsunami”.
Australia’s aging population means more people will continue to develop skin cancers, he said.
Treating an Australian patient with stage III/IV melanoma costs more than $100,000 a year, according to a recent study by Associate Professor Louisa Gordon.
Professor Kimlin said early detection and prevention remained the best way to reduce escalating costs.
He also called for a national conversation about creating workforce standards for GPs to help them detect skin cancers.
It was important for GPs to be trained in contemporary detection techniques, but patients also needed to be sure that their doctors knew how to diagnose skin cancer.
“We also need to think about what a workforce will look like – will it be GPs?
“How are we going to work with our businesses and our specialized services?
More than two-thirds of Australians will receive treatment for skin cancer at some point in their lives, according to a new study from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.
Research has found that around 69% of Australians – 73% of men and 65% of women – will have at least one skin cancer cleared in their lifetime.