Skin cancer shock

Queensland has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

A routine visit to the doctor became a life-saving decision for RACQ member Alison Proctor after she was diagnosed with advanced skin cancer.

“I went to see a dermatologist about a sunspot on my face but during a full body skin check the doctor discovered a suspicious mole on the base of my foot,” Ms Proctor said.

The next day Ms Proctor received a phone call that changed her life.

“I was diagnosed with grade three melanoma,” Ms Proctor said.

“The doctor told me that if I hadn’t come in, I’d have been dead within a year.”

More than 3700 Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma each year, 340 of whom will die from the disease.

Melanoma is considered the most serious type of skin cancer as it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body if not detected early.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan said two in three Australians would be diagnosed with a form of skin cancer before the age of 70.

“Australia has some of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, with the majority of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers caused by ultraviolet (UV) damage,” Ms McMillan said.

Ms McMillan said Queensland’s unique climate meant UV damage could occur even in winter. 

“Sun protection is required when the UV Index is three and above, which is all year round in Queensland,” she said.

“The best defence against sunburn is multiple methods of protection, so slip on protective clothing, slop on SPF30 or above broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen, slap on a broad-brimmed hat, seek shade and slide on wrap-around sunglasses.”

Ms Proctor underwent surgery to remove the melanoma and now encourages others to make skin care a priority.

“I know how lucky I am to be alive so I’m always nagging people to get their skin checked,” she said.

“If it wasn’t for my cousin and doctor nagging me to get checked I wouldn’t be here today – they saved my life.”

If you notice any changes to your skin speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

Skin cancer symptoms

  • A spot that is different from other spots on the skin 
  • A spot that has changed size, shape, colour or texture 
  • A sore that doesn’t heal, is itchy or bleeds