Cancer Council tool targets Queensland youth

LILY NOLAN

Cancer Council Queensland have rolled out their latest tool to promote skin cancer awareness and this one is aimed specifically at the state’s youth.

Cancer Council Queensland risk calculator scores

Cancer Council Queensland are encouraging the state’s young people to use the Risk Calculator to get their score. Photo: Courtesy Cancer Council Queensland

 

The campaign, which kicked off in August, uses a Cancer Risk Calculator as an easy way for the younger generation to assess their risk of skin cancer.

The calculator asks questions based on lifestyle factors such as sun exposure, nutrition, fitness, and smoking and drinking habits to assess the user’s risk of skin cancer, giving a score between one and 100, with one being the highest risk and 100 being the lowest.

Users are being encouraged to post about their score on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to boost awareness about skin cancer and its risk factors.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan said she believed the calculator was a powerful tool to get young Australians to pay attention to the importance of skin cancer prevention.

“With one third of all cancers preventable through healthy lifestyle changes, it is crucial that young Queenslanders know and understand their cancer risk and how they can reduce that risk leading into the future,” Ms McMillan said.

“With the use of a score, Queenslanders can gain a strong sense of where their cancer risk is at and can work towards achieving a better score,” she said.

According to a recent report by Queensland Health’s Chief Health Officer, Queensland currently leads the world in skin cancer cases, and young people aged 14 to 34 years are at the highest risk, being four times more likely to be sunburnt than older Australians.

Risk calculator scores

Risk Calculator users are rated from one to 100, with 100 being the lowest risk of contracting skin cancer. Photo: Courtesy Cancer Council Queensland

 

Other major risk factors for skin cancer, such as extended sun exposure, and unhealthy drinking and smoking habits, are also widely associated with youth culture, which include attending outdoor concerts and events, and taking part in social gatherings where drinking and smoking are common.

The report also showed that of people between the ages 18 and 29, 12 per cent smoked daily, 25 per cent drank excessively, and 40 per cent were overweight or obese.

Cancer Council Queensland promotes healthy lifestyles, being familiar with your body, and having regular screenings to ensure maximum protection against cancer.

“Currently, at least one third of all cancer cases can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices and we want to do all we can to make sure Queenslanders are aware of, and making, these healthier choices,” Ms McMillan said.

The Cancer Council’s risk calculator also has the financial support of nib foundation, whose mission is to help people and communities live healthier lives.

The foundation’s executive officer Amy Tribe said they were proud to support the unique health promotion in order to engage with the state’s youth.

“Our desire really is to not only support the final touches of this tool, but also to make sure as many young people as possible are able to engage with it,” Ms Tribe said.

“About 9000 people have already clicked through the calculator from the campaign,” she said.

Having taken the test herself, Ms Tribe said she was impressed with the simplicity of the tool and was eager to learn from her score.

“When I took the survey, I received a score of 85, the score is between zero and 100 with 100 being the lowest risk, and there was some real room for improvement in there for me,” Ms Tribe said.

Samantha Dunham

Queenslander Samantha Dunham is at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, and has regular skin checks. Photo: Lily Nolan

 

One young Queenslander who has already taken the Risk Calculator test is 20-year-old Samantha Dunham from the Sunshine Coast.

Ms Dunham was born with a large birthmark on her left arm and, due to its size and age, she is at a higher risk of developing skin cancer and therefore has to have screenings regularly.

“It wasn’t until I was around 13 that I was told I would need to be more careful because of the freckle, but ever since then I have been really serious about keeping out of the sun and lowering my risk,” Ms Dunham said.

“When I tried the Risk Calculator I got a score of 79, so a moderately low risk, but there’s definitely things that I need to work on to hopefully raise my score and lower my risk,” she said.

Ms Dunham said she hoped the campaign would encourage her peers to take a more serious look at their habits and lifestyle choices to lower their own risk of skin cancer.

To use the Cancer Council Risk Calculator visit the Cancer Council Queensland website.

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