Skin cancer, particularly non-melanoma skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma), are the most common form of cancer in Australia. In Australia, we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world due to the extreme levels of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian women. Regular breast cancer screening and awareness campaigns are in place to detect and treat it early.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Australian men. Regular prostate cancer screening and awareness efforts are also in place.
Colorectal (Bowel) Cancer
Colorectal cancer, which includes cancers of the colon and rectum, is among the most common cancers in Australia. Screening programs are available to detect it early.
Lung cancer is another common cancer in Australia and is often linked to smoking and exposure to environmental factors.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, but it’s more aggressive than non-melanoma skin cancers. It is common in Australia due to high sun exposure.
Cervical cancer is common among women, but thanks to widespread screening programs, it has become less prevalent in recent years.
It’s essential to note that the prevalence of different types of cancer can change over time due to various factors, including changes in risk factors, screening practices, and advancements in cancer prevention and treatment. Therefore, for the most up-to-date information, it’s advisable to consult sources like the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare or Cancer Council Australia, which regularly publishes statistics and updates on cancer trends in the country.
Measures You Can Take to Help Avoid Cancer
While there is no foolproof way to prevent cancer, there are several lifestyle choices and strategies that can help reduce your risk of developing cancer. Here are some critical steps you can take to lower your cancer risk:
Smoking is a leading cause of many types of cancer, including lung, mouth, throat, and pancreas. Avoiding tobacco products and secondhand smoke is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent cancer.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including those of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce cancer risk. Limit processed and red meats and minimise consumption of sugary and high-calorie foods.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is associated with an increased risk of several types of cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can lower your risk.
Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of cancer. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week.
Protect Your Skin
Limit exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and tanning beds to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and avoid prolonged sun exposure, especially during peak hours.
Practice Safe Sex
Engaging in safe sexual practices can help reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that could lead to certain types of cancer, such as cervical cancer. Get vaccinated against HPV, which can cause cervical and other cancers.
Regular cancer screenings can detect cancer at an early, more treatable stage. Follow recommended guidelines for cancer screenings based on your age, sex, and risk factors. Common screenings include mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopies, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests.
Limit Environmental Exposures
Reduce exposure to environmental carcinogens like asbestos, radon, and other harmful substances. Be aware of occupational risks and take appropriate precautions.
Be aware of your family’s cancer history and genetic risk factors. If you have a family history of cancer, consider genetic counselling and testing.
Certain vaccines, like the HPV vaccine and hepatitis B vaccine, can help prevent infections linked to certain cancers.
Chronic stress may weaken the immune system, potentially making the body more susceptible to cancer. Implement stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness.
Remember that cancer risk factors can vary depending on the type and individual factors. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice on reducing your specific risk based on your medical history and family background. Additionally, early detection through regular check-ups and screenings is crucial for improving cancer outcomes.
Dr Clem Bonney
Dr Clem Bonney understands that being advised of cancer is a stressful time for you and your family, requiring medical professionals with empathy and understanding to support you through the diagnosis and treatment. He can assist with guidance and engagement in the healthcare system in this stressful time.