Reduction In Melanoma Incidence And Mortality Rates In Younger Western Australians. Are Skin Cancer Prevention Programs Working?

Slevin TERRY, Cancer Council Western Australia, Australia

1 Cancer Council WA, Perth, WA, Australia
2 Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

When it comes to cancer prevention – the real outcomes of our efforts focus on reduction of disease incidence and are not expected for some decades after prevention efforts commence. From exposure to the known carcinogen, the gap between the risk factor exposure (e.g. tobacco smoking or sun exposure) and cancer diagnosis is some decades.
Skin cancer prevention efforts have been in place for almost three decades in Western Australia (WA), with consistent financial investment in sun protection programs at the highest per capita rate of anywhere in the world.  Should we now expect to see some impact of the prevention efforts in incidence rates ?
Age standardised melanoma incidence rates continue to rise, albeit with signs of having plateaued, in WA, a population of close to 2.5 million.  
Mortality rates seem to have been rising in men and flattened out more recently.  Mortality rates have been flat in women for some decades.
A closer analysis of both incidence and mortality rates in WA shows considerable reductions in the younger age groups, specifically among those under the age of 40 years.
While many factors may be at play, data will be presented to support the thesis that skin cancer prevention efforts are likely to be contributing to progress on important skin cancer outcomes.  Dominant factors driving these trends will be presented. National data in this context will also be presented.