Lifetime prevalence of non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancer in Australian recreational and competitive surfers

Mike Climstein*, James Furness, Wayne Hing, Joe Walsh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
126 Downloads (Pure)


Background/Purpose: Surfing is one of the most popular outdoor aquatic activities in Australia with an estimated 2.7 million recreational surfers; however, Australia has long been recognized as having the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, and it is the most common type of cancer in young Australians. The aim of this study was to investigate the lifetime prevalence of non-melanoma [basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)] and melanoma skin cancers in Australian recreational and competitive surfers. Methods: Australian surfers were invited to complete an online surveillance survey to determine the lifetime prevalence of non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers. Results: A total of 1348 surfers (56.9% recreational) participated in this study, of which 184 surfers reported a skin cancer (competitive n = 96, recreational n = 87). Of non-melanoma and melanoma cancers reported, BCC was the most common (6.8%), followed by melanoma (1.4%) and SCC (0.6%). The relative risk was higher (P < 0.001) in competitive vs. recreational surfers [OR 1.74 (CI 1.28–2.31)]. There was a higher (P < 0.05) number of skin cancers reported on the face (23.5%), back (16.4%) and arms (12.4%). There were significant trends (P < 0.001) in reported skin cancers between competitive and recreational surfers, as well as significantly (P < 0.001) more skin cancers reported in males (14.6%) than females (9.4%). Conclusion: Based upon these findings, individuals who surf are advised to regularly utilize sun protection strategies (avoid peak ultraviolet radiation (10 am–3 pm), rashvest, hat and sunscreen) and primary care physicians are recommended to regularly screen their patients who surf.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalPhotodermatology Photoimmunology and Photomedicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


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