Lifetime prevalence of non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancer in Australia surfers

James Furness, Michael Climstein, Wayne A Hing, Joe Walsh

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearchpeer-review


Introduction: Surfing is one of the most popular aquatic activities in Australia with an estimated 2.7 million recreational surfers1 however, Australia has long been recognized as having the highest incidence of melanoma in the world. As a result the expected risk of skin cancer in surfers due to long periods of exposure to ultraviolet radiation is of great concern2. The aim of this study was to investigate the lifetime prevalence of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs), (basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)), and melanoma skin cancers (MSCs) in Australian surfers.
Methods: Given the geographic distribution of surfers in Australia, we utilized an online surveillance survey to determine the lifetime prevalence of NMSCs and MSCs. The survey consisted of physiological demographics (age, Ht, mass) and surfing specific demographics (board type, surfing exposure, ultraviolet exposure and skin type). Participants were instructed to report only NMSCs and MSCs by type/location that have only been diagnosed and/or treated by either a general practitioner (GP) or dermatologist.ResultsA total 1,348 surfers participated, of which 184 surfers reported a skin cancer. Of skin cancers reported for the entire cohort, BCC was the most common (6.8%), followed by melanoma (1.4%) and SCC (0.6%). Relative risk was higher (p<0.001) in competitive versus recreational surfers (OR 1.74 (CI 1.28-2.31)). A significantly (p<0.05) higher number of skin cancers were reported on the face (23.5%), back (16.4%) and arms (12.4%). There were significant (p<0.001) trends 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 ultra violet radiation, rashvest, hat and sunscreen) and primary care physicians are recommended to regularly screen their patients who surf.
References:1. Stark A. 2013. Surfing Australia Annual Report.2. Moehrle M. 2008. Outdoor sports and skin cancer. Clinical Dermatology 26:12-15.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event2nd Science of Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity in the Tropics conference - Townsville, Australia, Townsville, Australia
Duration: 7 Sept 20169 Sept 2016


Conference2nd Science of Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity in the Tropics conference


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