The potential role for designers and health professionals to collaborate for skin cancer prevention is so strong that researchers at Queensland University of Technology have partnered with DIAQ and Cancer Council Australia for the “Cool and Covered : designing out skin cancer in Australia” project.
For many years now, public health programs have focused on skin cancer prevention and the importance of sun protection to reduce our risk of this potentially deadly disease. The good news is that these programs have had a positive effect and rates of some skin cancers have declined in younger age groups. However – here’s the challenge – while over the past three decades our sun protection habits have improved immensely, we still have a long way to go. Ineffective use and over reliance on sunscreen is high and far too many people are still getting caught because of not being adequately prepared with protective clothing or shade. The Cool and Covered project provides an opportunity for Queensland designers to help take action.
Skin cancer is often referred to as our nation’s disease with more than 13 000 Australians diagnosed each year with potentially deadly melanoma.1 This statistic becomes even more astounding when you consider that there were more than 974 767 treated cases of other forms of skin cancer in Australia in 2015 – that’s more than 2500 each day.2
This cancer is the most common cancer in Australia and the most costly, impacting more than $500 million annually on the health system each year, plus countless unmeasured costs of patient distress, physical disfigurement, lost time off work, plus an ongoing risk of developing further skin cancers.2 Evidence tells us that skin cancer is largely caused by over exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Whilst the negative impact of this cancer is enormous, there is positive news. By adopting everyday lifestyle changes which include greater skin protection with clothing, sunscreen, hats and sunglasses and greater access to and use of quality shade, Australian’s exposure to ultraviolet radiation can be reduced, thus reducing the overall risk of skin cancer.
The Cool and Covered – designing out skin can cancer in Australia program works collaboratively with a range of organisations to encourage effective sun protective design of shade and apparel for Queenslanders and indeed Australians.
1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2014) Melanoma Skin Cancer in Australia accessed at: http://www.aihw.gov.au/cancer/melanoma/ 31 May, 2016.
2 SunSmart, Cancer Council Victoria Skin Cancer Facts and Stats http://www.sunsmart.com.au/about/skin-cancer-facts-stats#ref1 01 June 2016.