A cancer-free future

Cancer Council Australia has called on all political parties to commit to five key priorities to help deliver better cancer outcomes for all Australians, ahead of this year’s federal election.

A new video released by the Cancer Council highlights its first priority is committing to ongoing funding for national skin cancer prevention.

Cancer Council Australia is calling on political parties to help deliver better cancer outcomes for Australians. Video: Cancer Council Australia.

Australian Melanoma Research Foundation chief executive officer Marisa Chilcott says Australia has the highest melanoma incidence rates in the world, and therefore, ongoing funding is essential.

“Melanoma is a form of skin cancer, but it is the most deadly,” she says.

“Melanoma is so common in Australia, it is referred to as ‘Australia’s national cancer.'”

Marisa Chilcott

According to Ms Chilcott, melanoma is the most common cancer for people in their 20s.

“I think young people think skin cancer only affects elderly people, which is just not the case,” she says.

Melanoma statistics. Infographic: Layla Smith.

Perth sisters Lucy and Sophie Lofthouse lost their mother, Liz, to melanoma in 2018, after she was diagnosed for a second time.

Sophie Lofthouse says she doesn’t think a lot of people realise just how common and serious melanoma can be.

“I was pretty young when she was first diagnosed and although I knew what was going on, I didn’t want to accept it.

“You never think it’s going to happen to you until it does,” she says.

Sophie Lofthouse and her late mother, Liz. Photo: Supplied.

Sophie hopes more funding is invested in melanoma research so other people do not have to lose their loved ones as she did.

“I would hate for anyone to have to go through this,” she says. 

Lucy Lofthouse believes more funding should be allocated to melanoma research and awareness, particularly because it is so preventable.

“It’s something that can be avoided for almost everyone, at least in a severe circumstance.

“All we can ask for is more funding and more awareness,” she says.

Lucy Lofthouse with her late mother, Liz Lofthouse. Photo: Supplied.

Ms Chilcott says melanoma kills more Australians than the national road toll, and yet, road safety funding dramatically exceeds melanoma awareness and prevention funding.

“If the percentage of money that is spent on road deaths was spent on melanoma research, major progress could be made,” she says.

Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research’s chief development officer Paige Gibbs encourages Australians to take steps to avoid overexposure to UV.

“Once your DNA is damaged, melanomas can occur anywhere on the body.

“You should keep an eye out for new and unusual growth or changes in an existing mole and get regular skin checks if you spend a lot of time in the sun,” she says.

Australians should take precautions to avoid skin cancer, such as wearing sunscreen. Photo: Layla Smith.

Cancer Council chief executive officer Professor Tanya Buchanan says almost all Australians are affected by cancer in some way, whether it be a personal diagnosis or the impact of cancer on a loved one.

“We know that one in three cancers are preventable, meaning that a future where the incidence of cancer is reduced is something we can work towards,” she says.

“We all have a role to play in this and that’s why we’re calling for whoever forms the next government to commit to these five, evidence backed policy asks, and help reduce the impact of cancer for all Australians.”