Spot the difference
By MEL MARTIN
LYNN Major knows better than most of the importance of careful protection and early detection of melanoma ? she found hers early enough, but sadly, her sister didn't.
"I picked mine up early, it was a shallow melanoma, but my sister died from melanoma nine months ago," Mrs Major said, adding her father also had melanoma, which had left him disfigured.
So her 10-year-old son is well briefed into all aspects of sun protection.
He always wears a wide-brim hat, SPF30+ sunscreen, zinc, and long-sleeves whenever he's taking part in outdoor activities.
As well, Mrs Major is now campaigning for the school uniform at her son's school to be changed to include just a wide-brimmed hat rather than a choice between a cap and a hat, and she's confident this will happen this year.
But she believes that every Australian should be just as careful.
"Protect your skin as much as possible, and wear a hat," she said.
"Be vigilant with your skin, know what's normal and what's abnormal, and see your doctor really quickly if you see something unusual.
"And get a second opinion if you're not happy with the first one."
Mrs Major also recommended taking digital photos of anything of concern to keep track of any changes.
Australia holds the dubious record of having the highest rate of melanoma in the world, and melanoma is the third most common cancer in the country and second most common cancer on the Mid North Coast.
And while melanoma rates continue to grow, Australians seem to have become complacent to the slip, slop, slap message.
"We still have a lot of work to do," Cancer Council regional manager Patty Delaney said.
"We still see people at the beach with no protection.
"The Cancer Council was at the cricket last weekend, and there were people walking in, ready to sit in the sun all day, without a hat on."
This year, an estimated 3625 will be diagnosed with melanoma, a rate expected to jump by 29 per cent by 2011.
The risk increases with age, and a recent study found that one in three new moles detected on Australians aged over 50 turned out to be deadly melanomas.
"Every day, two Australians over 50 die of melanoma, that's scary stuff," Ms Delaney said.
"What people don't realise is that sun damage is cumulative, so every single dose you get can accumulate towards getting melanoma.
"What that means is you can get that one dose too many."