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  • Writer's pictureKaty More

Silent Epidemic Sweeps Moreton Bay

With outdoor activities a cherished part of daily life, a health concern quietly affects many Moreton Bay residents. Dr Raj Selvarajan, an experienced general practitioner specialising in skin cancer detection and prevention, is encouraging the local community to reconsider their tanning habits.


Dr Raj has noted a surprising increase in sunburn cases, even in areas not directly on the beach. He emphasises the deceptive risk of UV rays on cloudy days, catching people off-guard and leading to unexpected sunburns.


"Despite increased awareness, we still see sunburn and skin damage cases, especially during the warmer months. Teenagers, in particular, tend to underestimate the risks and overestimate their resilience," warns Dr Raj.



Moreton's sun-filled lifestyle comes with a cost, as Queensland holds the world's highest rates of skin cancer. In 2023, Dr Raj and the Burpengary East Medical Centre and Skin Cancer Clinic team treated 178 melanomas and over 1,500 skin cancers like Basal Cell Carcinomas or Squamous Cell Carcinomas. A combined total of approximately 140 skin cancers per month.


Despite initiatives like the You do the 5. You survive. Campaign, recent warnings from 2024 Australians of the Year Georgina Long and Richard Scolyer stress that the Aussie tanning culture is "killing us".


Dr Raj agrees, dispelling common misconceptions, explaining, "Tanning is a sign of sun damage, and UV rays can penetrate clouds. A base tan does not shield you from the harmful effects of the sun."


For Dr Raj, the solution lies in community-wide education and action. He advocates for local initiatives such as free sunscreen dispensers, workshops, and school campaigns to boost sun safety awareness. The Burpengary East Medical Centre and Skin Cancer Clinic's professional team actively engages with the community, collaborating with local Men's Sheds and schools to offer bulk-billed skin checks and promote regular self-examinations.


To reinforce the message, Dr Raj encourages everyone to follow the Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide campaign, stressing the importance of protective measures like sunscreen application, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing.


"The tanning culture varies across communities, and despite not living directly on the beach, access to nearby beaches like Bribie Island, Sunshine Coast, Redcliffe, and Deception Bay is easy," cautions Dr Raj.


"Outdoor activities such as mowing the lawn or walking the dog without sufficient sun protection also tend to result in more people showing signs of recent sunburn, particularly during the summer."


While online resources are available, Dr Raj recommends credible sources such as Cancer Council Australia, Melanoma Risk Assessment Tool, and the Cancer Council's Guidelines for Melanoma and Keratinocyte Carcinoma for reliable information.


Regular self-examinations and professional skin checks are advised for adults annually, with screenings every six months for high-risk individuals.


"The Burpengary East Medical Centre and Skin Clinic offers convenient online booking systems, evening and weekend appointments, bulk billing for pensioners, and concession rates for healthcare card holders, ensuring essential skin health services are accessible to all," advised Dr Raj.


"Total Body Photography, precise mole mapping, digital monitoring, and a range of non-surgical and surgical treatments are also available to ensure patients receive suitable and effective care in the fight against skin cancer."


To connect with Dr Raj or for more information about the Burpengary East Medical Centre and Skin Cancer Clinic, visit www.bemedicalcentre.com.au.

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