Cancer Council drives sun protection message

Steve Moyle.
Steve Moyle.

Four melanomas and 50 stitches down his back later and Steve Moyle still considers himself one of the lucky ones.

“They were able to catch all of them early. I’ve had four melanomas removed, all from my back. The last one was really bad. I ended up with 50 stitches,” he said.

“I never knew about the dangers of the sun growing up. I was first diagnosed with melanoma 24 years ago – I will never forget it.  I’ve been very fortunate, they have got them all before they have got too bad. Once they get to a certain point they can’t do much for you.”

The 67-year-old tells a familiar tale when it comes to sun protection  – or that lack of  – growing up.

A builder for 55 years, the summer months meant no hat or shirt at work. It was a similar story at the beach or on the golf course. These days it is a different story.

The long-time Liverpool Golf Club member is driving the sun safe protection message as part of Cancer Council NSW’s Improve your long game program.

The program, aimed at men aged 40 years and over, promotes good sun protection by offering free sunscreen at the clubhouse and on the course as well as information resources around the club on how to reduce skin cancer risk.

In NSW, men’s risk of skin cancer increases from the age of 40. Men in this age group are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma, and around twice as likely to die from it, compared to women of a similar age.

“These days every time I’m out on the golf course I cream up and wear a hat,” Mr Moyle said.

“I also get my skin checked every three months and this program is a great reminder to get your skin regularly checked by a specialist.”

The program is part of Council NSW’s attempt to reverse the trend of the number of Australians living with or beyond cancer which is expected to increase by a staggering 72 per cent in the next 22 years.

In a report released in time for World Cancer Day last Saturday, it shows the increase in the number of Australians living with and surviving cancer will lead to almost 1.9 million Australians living with a personal history of cancer by 2040. That is an increase from one in 22 Australians today, to one in 18 in the next 22 years.

Cancer Council Australia chief executive  Professor Sanchia Aranda said the rise in the number of Australians living with or beyond cancer can be attributed to the country’s growing and ageing population, as well as increasing cancer survival rates thanks to better prevention, early detection and research.

Spreading the message: Steve Moyle at Liverpool Golf Club. Skin cancer is preventable through easy steps like applying and reapplying sunscreen. Picture: Chris Lane

Spreading the message: Steve Moyle at Liverpool Golf Club. Skin cancer is preventable through easy steps like applying and reapplying sunscreen. Picture: Chris Lane

She said prostate, breast, bowel and melanoma are the common cancer types that would contribute the most to the increasing number of people who have a personal history of cancer.

In south-west Sydney, prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer followed by breast, lung, colon and melanoma.

Figures from the Cancer Institute of NSW show about 4855 people were diagnosed with some form of cancer in the South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) in 2016 and 1675 people died from the disease. 

SWSLHD Director of Cancer Services Professor Geoff Delaney stressed the importance of regular cancer screening which can detect a disease in the early stages and give people the best chance of recovery.

He also said there were things residents can do to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer.

“In Australia, a third of cancers can be attributed to lifestyle factors like smoking, sun exposure, alcohol, diet and a lack of physical activity,” he said.

“Simple measures like wearing sunscreen, reducing or cutting out alcohol consumption, regular exercise, quitting smoking and a healthy diet are excellent steps towards reducing the risk of developing cancer.”

My Moyle said the days of putting a bit of zinc on the nose were long gone.

“When I was younger he objective was to get a tan and go brown but in the end you pay the toll for it. I thought I was invincible; but you’re not,” he said.