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Skin cancer treatment cost blowout
Martin Job, Patrick Barron-Lyons and Ceara Maguire at at the beach. Picture: Lee Griffith/The West Australian

The cost of treating non-melanoma skin cancers will blow out to more than $700 million in 2015 with the price tag hitting at least $65 million in WA alone, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia today.

And Cancer Council WA director of education and research Terry Slevin said the figure would be closer to $1 billion nationally if out-of-pocket expenses including travel and time away from work had been included in the figure.

Non-melanoma skin cancers, which include basal and squamous cell carcinomas, are the most common in Australia.

A team of researchers, led by Melbourne's Epworth Hospital dermatologist Rodney Sinclair, attributed the cost blowout to a near doubling of cases from 1997 to 2010.

But Mr Slevin said it was not all doom and gloom, with figures showing that while the rate of non-melanoma cancers increased in over-65s, the rates were much lower for those under 45.

"That's encouraging news and it suggests that our skin cancer campaigns are starting to kick in," Mr Slevin said.

He said the Cancer Council was aiming this week's Skin Cancer Action Week campaign at men, who were more likely to get skin cancer.

Mr Slevin said women were more likely to look after their skin and were more worried about the early ageing effects of the sun.

"They are more likely to wear sunscreen but us blokes tend to have a more laissez-faire attitude," he said.

Martin Job, of Lathlain, said though he did not always wear sun-screen when he was a young teenager, he made more effort now to protect himself against the sun.

The 19-year-old said sun-smart campaigns had definitely encouraged him to wear sunscreen.

"I try not to stay more than a couple hours at the beach," he said.

Though non-melanoma skin cancers are easy to treat, they kill about 40 people each year in WA.

SunSound was launched yesterday at Hillarys Boat Harbour.

Program manager Kerry O'Hare said a sun-smart message would be played over loudspeakers at the Perth Zoo, Adventure World, Beatty Park Leisure Centre, the Great Escape at Hillarys and Surfing WA events over summer. She said it would remind people to slip, slop, slap to avoid getting sunburnt.