2 in 3 Australians will have at least one skin cancer by the time they reach age 70. thinkUV aims to reduce these rates by asking people to incorporate a couple of additional steps before they go outdoors: check the UV rating, apply adequate amounts of sunscreen and wear protective clothing.
Brooke Mitchell know about the harm UV can cause: in April, she came to the Skin Health Institute to have a skin cancer removed from her nose. “Getting a basal cell carcinoma (BCC) at 38 years of age is on the young side, but it happened, and I have a 50 per cent chance of it happening again for the rest of my life,” Brooke says. BCCs are the most common type of cancer – around 600,000 are removed in Australia each year.
Brooke had always been sun-conscious, but over the past few months, has learned a lot more about skin cancer prevention. She wants to use her cancer to help educate others, particularly those under 40, who can start healthier skin protection routines right now. “Being really smart about the sun means more than not sunbaking, putting on sunscreen once a day and having the SunSmart app but only occasionally using it,” she says. “We need more education, especially about the build-up of skin damage and danger.”
These days, Brooke is far more vigilant about reapplying sunscreen, hats and UV levels: “I have reminders set up, so that’s the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning now – I grab my phone and check my UV app.”