Farmers targeted for skin cancer prevention as UV levels still high in Victoria

Tuesday 16 March, 2010

Victoria's rural community has been urged to remain vigilant about using sun protection in March and April, with farmers and outdoor workers at a higher risk of skin cancer.

With UV levels remaining high enough across Victoria to cause sunburn in as little as 16 minutes, SunSmart is running the skin cancer prevention and early detection campaign, Take care of your farm's most important asset. You.

SunSmart Manager Sue Heward said sun protection is still needed outside of the peak summer months.

"UV radiation in Victoria is at a level that can damage skin and eyes and increase the risk of skin cancer from September to April each year," she said.

"Our campaign is once again targeting farmers and rural outdoor workers as research shows that UV exposure is higher in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries when compared with other occupational groups.

"Previous Cancer Council research of farmers in the Wimmera and Gippsland areas showed farmers believed they were at risk of developing skin cancer but didn't adequately protect themselves, particularly with sunscreen and long-sleeved shirts.

"The key is to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen, broad brimmed hats, clothing that covers as much skin as possible and sunglasses when outdoors and wherever possible stick to doing jobs in the shade during the peak UV period of 10am - 3pm.

"It is important to look for early signs of skin cancer. Check your skin every three months and visit a GP if you have any concerns."

The campaign highlights the personal experience of Les, a Victorian farmer. Les owned and ran a farm in Kotupna before developing skin cancer.

Les never thought skin cancer would happen to him. "One day I find a small bump on my forehead, the next day I'm getting chemo and facing months in hospital. I was forced to sell up," he said.

"It's so easy to prevent skin cancer. We farmers really should make the effort to protect ourselves. Take it from me, don't risk losing your farm."

‘Take care of your farm's most important asset. You' radio and print campaign runs until the end of March 2010. An information brochure and poster are available. For more information: www.sunsmart.com.au or Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.

Updated: 16 Mar, 2010