New Zealand Tops the charts in Melanoma Rate

This makes for a bit of grim reading – but we all need wake up calls – and to be honest I think this has gone beyond a wake up call – its now the Alarm Clock!

Recent studies indicate that New Zealand has the highest incidence rates of melanoma in the world, twice the incidence rate of the US and four times the incidence of Northern Europe” Melanoma Foundation of New Zealand.   Latest statistics are also showing that around 2200 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year in New Zealand. That’s equivalent to six New Zealanders being diagnosed with melanoma every single day!New Zealand Melanoma Foundation. 

So, let’s take a few steps back and address some of the key questions around melanoma and melanoma prevention.


What causes Melanoma?

Most melanomas are caused by exposure to UV radiation in sunlight.  The sunburn we experienced as kids, otherwise known as – kiwi rite of passage – increases our risk of Melanoma now!  If we think about our childhood and our beach/lake/camping days and compare that to of our children/nieces/nephews – there is a big difference.  We know too much now – and ignorance is not an excuse anymore.


Can Melanoma be prevented?

Short answer – yes it can.  Here are some preventative measures you can adopt to help keep yourself “sun-safe”.

  • wear a broad rimmed hat
  • long sleeved clothing
  • sunglasses
  • apply sunscreen regularly – every 2 hours.  If you have been for a swim and have toweled down – reapply your sunscreen.  The sunscreen is there to be used – not look good on your towel.
  • Shade – make use of it especially between the hours of 10am and 4 pm.
  • Drink plenty of water – it wont protect you from the sun – but re hydration is a good all rounder for your body!


Who is at risk of Melanoma?

Skin type and family history play a big part in the risk factor.  The fair skinned of us are the most prone to Melanoma.  This is due to the fact that their skin burns more quickly than people with darker skin ( for example, Maori, Pacific and Asian People ).  In saying that though – one type of melanoma tends to occur on the soles of feet, palms of hand and under the nails in those with darker skin.


What does Melanoma look like?

Melanomas often appear as new spot or existing spot, freckle or mole that has changed in colour shape or size.  They can have an unusual shape or colour or a variety of colours and in some cases they may not be coloured at all.  Below is a chart that gives a visual for you to see.



types - New Zealand Tops the charts in Melanoma Rate


How is Melanoma treated?

Treatments for Melanoma can include: surgery, radiation therapy and in some cases chemotherapy.  These treatments listed are dependent on the type and stage of Melanoma and the persons general health at the time of diagnosis.


So – armed with this information – it’s time that everyone takes the need for sun protection seriously.  The old saying: SLIP on a t shirt, SLOP on some sunscreen, SLAP on a hat,  has held true for a long time.

At Surfersskin – we are a bit more in your face with our saying:


We know about the “DIE” side…. that’s how and why Surfersskin was born!