South Australians living on the coast, near the River Murray and in metropolitan Adelaide are more likely to get skin cancer than their inland cousins.
Researchers from the University of Adelaide and SA Department of Health say data collected over a 20-year period from 1985-2004 shows that coastal dwellers in particular are 41% more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma.
People living close to the river also have a 19% greater chance of contracting skin cancer compared to residents living in regional and remote parts of South Australia.
Coastal and river people probably get more skin cancer because they spend more time in the sun - but more caution could help reduce risk.
Melanoma specialist Associate Professor Brendon Coventry from the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Surgery says, "There is a large elderly population in coastal South Australia and it is important we target melanoma prevention and acute care programs to these areas," Associate Professor Coventry says. "We still have a significant problem with diagnosing melanoma early enough in older men, which could be improved."
Associate Professor Coventry and SA Health colleagues Adrian Heard and Bridget Milanowski analysed melanoma statistics from metropolitan Adelaide and 11 regional centres in South Australia.
"While there was a significant risk in contracting skin cancer for residents living on the coast or near the river, the data wasn't strong enough to show a real difference in melanoma death rates compared to people living inland," Associate Professor Coventry says.