Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. This high rate of skin cancer is due to a number of factors including our love of the outdoors, the harsh summer sun and because many Australians have fair skin that is not suited to the Australian climate.

At a glance

  • The incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK
  • Two thirds of Australians will have developed some form of skin cancer by the age of 70
  • Over 750,000 Australians are treated for skin cancer each year – that is over 2,000 people every day.
  • Skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers in Australia
  • The most commonly diagnosed cancer among adolescents and young adults is melanoma; it accounts for more than one-quarter of all cancers among Australians aged 15–29 years.
  • Between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun

Who is at risk?

Everyone in Australia is at risk of developing skin cancer due to high levels of UV radiation throughout the year.

You are at increased risk of developing skin cancer if you have:

  • A large number of moles or freckles
  • Unusual types of moles (eg dysplastic naevi)
  • Fair skin that burns easily and does not tan
  • Light coloured eyes (blue or green), fair coloured hair (blonde or red)
  • A history of multiple sunburns, particularly as a child
  • A history of severe sunburn (particularly one that caused blistering of the skin)
  • A personal or family history of skin cancer
  • Used solariums on a regular basis