Pushing for more dollars for skin cancer research

Investing in skin cancer prevention not only saves lives, but could also drastically reduce Australia’s nearly $ 2 billion treatment bill, experts say.

While systemic treatments for melanoma cost the federal government around $ 500 million in 2020-2021, recent data shows that those for much less fatal but more common keratinocyte cancers represent an annual burden of $ 1.3 billion.

The findings are contained in a new article describing recent studies on the economics of skin cancer prevention published in the peer-reviewed journal Public Health Research and Practice.

Lead author, Associate Professor Louisa Gordon of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, says the huge financial tax exists despite the fact that most cancers are preventable and curable.

Despite this, there has been no national investment in skin cancer prevention in Australia for over a decade.

The review, which analyzed evidence from two Australian studies, shows that primary prevention interventions are highly cost-effective: every dollar spent on prevention pays back two to four times the investment.

He also found that regular sun protection was more effective in reducing skin cancer in the general population than early detection through mass screening.

“What our article shows is that while skin cancer is a major burden on our health care system, prevention works,” said Professor Gordon.

“It’s a very important reminder to put on your hat and sunscreen when you go to the beach this summer. “

She says further assessment is needed of the relative benefits of the measures, including workplace shading, personal protective clothing and protective school clothing.

Another way to increase protection could be regulations to lower the price of approved sunscreen products, given that the average Australian only uses 33 teaspoons of sunscreen per year, or less than one. per week.

The study authors noted that one teaspoon of sunscreen only protects one limb for two hours.

Public Health Research and Practice is published quarterly online by the Sax Institute.

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