Policy context

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Policy context

The government and community sectors have led a number of interventions to reduce the impact of skin cancer in Australia, dating back to the 1970s when Cancer Councils sought to raise awareness about the disease. Evidence shows that a wide range of measures can be effective in multiple settings (see Effective interventions).

After more than 30 years of work, Australia is recognised as having the most extensive, comprehensive and longest-lasting skin cancer prevention programs in the world. Many have been based on and modified by extensive research and evaluation[1].

Cancer Council Australia’s primary national policy priority is a long-term commitment from the Australian Government to a national skin cancer prevention media campaign, which analysis of previous programs shows would return approximately $2.32 for every dollar invested through reduced healthcare costs and prevent thousands of NMSC and melanoma cases[2].

Skin cancer prevention can also be aided by continuing to ensure that the solarium industry is more effectively regulated or that bans are in place - such as the total ban on solariums that a number of State and Territory Governments introduced on the 31 December 2014.

Sun protection in the form of shaded spaces should be designed and installed by local governments and others with a responsibility for such amenities. Advocacy and policy should be further developed to promote sun protection behaviours in the workplace, schools, and childcare settings.

Strategies aimed at developing GPs’ skills in early detection of skin cancer and encouraging people to seek early diagnosis and treatment for suspicious lesions should also be supported. With around one million consultations for non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia each year,[3] and as the primary contact point for healthcare more generally, GPs have an important role in enhanced skin cancer control.

Awareness of the link between Vitamin D and sun exposure can be improved through the development of consistent, evidence-based public health messages and their communication to at-risk groups and the wider public through both targeted and general campaigns.

Where possible, Cancer Council Australia and its members seek to build strong partnerships with key stakeholders to support sound strategies relating to UV radiation. This collaborative approach allows the Cancer Council to access valuable advice and feedback from leading medical, policy and industry representatives, as well as consumers.

One recent effort has been modifying the built environment to provide an alternative (or supplementary) means to reducing UV exposure in secondary schools[4]. The research demonstrated that a simple environmental intervention can reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which is important in a policy context as it provides support for local government actions to create sun protective environments, for example, in childcare centres, public swimming pools, and parks.

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  1. Montague M, Borland R, Sinclair C. Slip! Slop! Slap! and SunSmart, 1980-2000: Skin cancer control and 20 years of population-based campaigning. Health Educ Behav 2001 Jun 1;28(3):290-305 Abstract available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11380050.
  2. Shih ST, Carter R, Sinclair C, Mihalopoulos C, Vos T. Economic evaluation of skin cancer prevention in Australia. Prev Med 2009 Nov;49(5):449-53 Abstract available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19747936.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cancer Australia. Non-melanoma skin cancer general practice consultations, hospitalisation and mortality. Canberra: AIHW; 2008 Sep. Report No.: Cancer series no. 43. Cat. no. CAN 39. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6442454591.
  4. Dobbinson SJ, White V, Wakefield MA, Jamsen KM, White V, Livingston PM, et al. Adolescents' use of purpose built shade in secondary schools: cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2009 Feb 17;338:b95 Abstract available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19223344.

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