Local News

Akubra Fridays to spark conversation around skin cancer


Local hospital staff are ditching the scrub caps for a much-loved Aussie icon to raise awareness for skin cancer prevention.
Staff at Townsville University Hospital will be donning their Akubra hats to work every Friday to help spark a conversation. 
Recruitment specialist Helene Fotinos says the staff all had loved ones affected by melanoma and talked about how important it was to get serious about sun safety. 
“We discussed ways we kept ourselves sun safe and realised we all had a fondness for the old Akubra so divined an idea where we all wear our hats to work on a Friday to start a
conversation about sun safety," she says. 
Ms Fotinos says the first time they wore their hats they garnered some funny looks.
“We’ve had people ask why we were wearing them which was a great opening to educate about the importance of keeping safe in the sun,” Ms Fotinos says.
Townsville University Hospital radiation oncologist Dr Madhavi Chilkuri applauded the idea.
“Anything that helps prevent skin cancer is a great idea in my book,” Dr Chilkuri says.
“Australia is the melanoma capital of the world, with one diagnosis in Australia almost every half an hour.
“It’s the most common cancer affecting 15 to 39 year olds and, devastatingly, one Australian every five hours will die from melanoma.”
According to Cancer Council regional statistics, 203 people are diagnosed with melanoma a year, with the disease claiming 19 lives each year. 
Dr Chilkuri says by far the most effective treatment was prevention.
“The most effective thing you can do is to practise sun safety at all times, particularly for young children,” Dr Chilkuri says. 
“This means avoiding the sun during the hottest parts of the day, and wearing sunscreen, clothing and a hat when you’re outside, even on cloudy days.”
“By catching it early, removing a melanoma is very simple and can even be done in your local GP’s office." 

[Image Source: Townsville Hospital and Health Service]