BE SUN SMART: Cancer data has revealed Northern Rivers residents are up to 150 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma. Picture: Supplied
BE SUN SMART: Cancer data has revealed Northern Rivers residents are up to 150 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma. Picture: Supplied

REVEALED: Melanoma ‘hotspots’ on the Northern Rivers

WORRYING new cancer data has revealed Northern Rivers residents are up to 150 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma.

According to the Australian Cancer Atlas, which uses data obtained from the Australian Cancer Database, four geographical areas within Byron Shire topped the list of the highest rates of melanoma diagnoses in Australia.

In the Brunswick Heads-Ocean Shores area, the number of melanoma diagnoses are 153 per cent higher than the Australian average.

This is followed closely by Byron Bay with 146 per cent, the Bangalow region on 132 per cent and the Mullumbimby region on 114 per cent higher than the national average.

According to the Australian Cancer Atlas, 62.4 people in every 100,000 will be diagnosed with melanoma. 

Manly-Lota, Queensland rounds out the top five highest geographical areas on 111 per cent.

The Lennox Head-Skennars Head region has melanoma rates up to 101 per cent higher than the national average, while the Evans Head region is at 99 per cent.

However the Australian Cancer Atlas also reveals this is not just a coastal problem.

Every area within the Northern Rivers region has "significantly higher" melanoma rates than the Australian average.

Melanoma is the leading cancer diagnosis for Northern Rivers residents, with the Lismore region which includes villages such as Nimbin, Dunoon and Wyrallah having 109 per cent more melanoma diagnoses than the national average.

Our lowest melanoma rates are found further inland, with Casino at 65 per cent and Tenterfield being 52 per cent higher than Australian average.

Lismore has the lowest occurrence of melanoma diagnoses across the Northern Rivers region, despite still being 47 per cent higher than the Australian average.

According to the Melanoma Institute Australia, UV exposure leading to sunburn is the single greatest risk factor for developing melanoma.

Melanoma kills one Australian every five hours and is the most common cancer in 15 to 39 year olds.

Despite the significantly higher melanoma rates across the Northern Rivers, the Australian Cancer Atlas reveals the local leading cause of death from cancer within five years of diagnosis is liver cancer.

According to the data, across the majority of Northern Rivers areas, mortality rates within five years of diagnosis for liver cancer are 30 to 40 per cent higher than the Australian average.


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