National Skin Cancer Action Week – a call for ACT Teens to #OwnYourTone this Summer

Telopea Park School Photo

Thank you Alix, Ila, Orli and Kerrie from Telopea Park School, Barton. 

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With less than a week before the official start of Summer, it’s time to remind all Canberrans, and especially teenagers, to be SunSmart and protect their skin.

This week is National Skin Cancer Action Week (17-23 November) and the theme this year is #ownyourtone, encouraging all teenagers to be happy with the skin colour they have and to be aware of the dangers of tanning. The week is a partnership between Cancer Council and the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

Cancer Council ACT Chief Executive, Sandra Turner, says there is some good news.

“The good news story is that since the mid-1990’s we’ve continued to see a steady and significant decline in the number of ACT teens reporting they like to get a suntan, down from 72% to 51% in 2017 for females and from 82.4% to 56.9% for males, according to the three yearly ASSAD* survey, Ms Turner said.

“Although we may be seeing some improvement in sun protection behaviours, still far too many Canberra teens will simply just not heed the SunSmart message this summer, increasing their lifetime risk of skin cancer, including deadly melanoma,” said Ms Turner.  

Kerrie Blain is the Principal at Telopea Park School and knows too well that when it comes to implementing effective UV protection policy and practices among secondary school students it can be bit of a battle.

“Our school community actively encourages and reminds the older students to wear hats and to apply sunscreen, but it is difficult to enforce with teenagers.

“Compared to the primary school years, students in high school are becoming more independent, learning about responsibility and also have to deal with peer group pressure which contributes to all behaviours, including sun protection,” Ms Blain said.

“That’s why trees and clever and effective shade structures play a very important role in the ACT secondary school setting - to protect older students from direct UV when they are spending time with their mates, because wearing a hat isn’t necessarily ‘cool’ at secondary school,” she said.

Melanoma is the 3rd most common diagnosed cancer among ACT men and women.  At least two in three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by age 70. Over 2000 people nationally will die from the disease each year.

Source: Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) Survey 2017 available at: https://health.act.gov.au/about-our-health-systemdata-and-publications/healthstats/statistics-and-indicators/assad-sun

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