All Australians are vulnerable to melanoma, but Australian farmers are dying from it faster than most. If you’re a farmer and develop melanoma, the chance that you’ll die from it is 60% higher than average. Worse still, skin cancer is killing farmers over the age of 65 at twice the rate of other Australians in the same age group.
The good news is that melanoma can be prevented and, if treated early, doesn’t have to be deadly.
Almost all skin cancers are caused by over exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. NSW has high levels of UV radiation, especially from October to March. When UV levels are 3 and above sun protection is recommended.
You can’t see or feel UV radiation and it can be high on cool or cloudy days. Use the SunSmart UV Alert to check UV levels daily in your local area. The UV Alert can be found in the weather section of newspapers, on cancercouncil.com.au/sunsmartuvalert or you can download the free SunSmart app for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Don’t let skin cancer creep up on you. Follow these tips from farmers like you who’ve come through a hard time:
- Cover up with protective clothing and always wear a broad brim hat and sunglasses whenever you’re outside
- Put on SPF 50+ or 30+ sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours throughout the day or more often if perspiring heavily
- Seek shade wherever you can. Use trees and the shadow cast by buildings or put up demountable shade
- Check your skin regularly. If you notice anything different – a pimple that won’t got away, a mole that has changed in size, shape or colour or anything new or different get it checked immediately by a health professional
- Have a sun protection plan in place for your workplace so everyone knows what is expected of them every day.
Glenn is a second generation farmer from Junee Reefs. He is also a melanoma survivor. Here he recounts the moment that changed his life. This is Glenn's story.
- SafeWork NSW has been working with Cancer Council NSW to help outdoor workers protect themselves from the dangers of sun exposure.
- Those working outdoors are encouraged to protect themselves in five ways.
- Watch Glenn’s story
- Learn more about how to protect yourself from sun exposure.
- As well as listening to the stories on this site, talk to others on your farm about how you can protect yourself from sun exposure.