Ārai mate kiri pukupuku

Skin cancer prevention

We work with strategic partners to motivate New Zealanders to protect themselves from harmful exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and to support the early detection of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer affecting New Zealanders. We also have the highest rates of melanoma skin cancer in the world. It has been estimated that the different types of skin cancer together account for just over 80% of all new cancers diagnosed each year.

Around 90% of melanoma skin cancers are preventable by reducing exposure to UVR that causes harm.

Our work focuses on motivating higher risk groups to protect themselves from UVR and to support the early detection of skin cancer. These include people who socialise outdoors and outdoor workers. 

Increasing knowledge of the risks (and benefits) of UVR among the public, health professionals and policy makers is a key priority for us. 

What does HPA do?

We lead the national programme in New Zealand for the prevention and early detection of skin cancer. To achieve this, we focus on developing strategic partnerships to support our work with the public, outdoor workers, and people who socialise outdoors.

We work with health professionals and key sector organisations including the Cancer Society of New Zealand, Melanoma New Zealand, and the Melanoma Network of New Zealand Incorporated (MelNet). 

Learn more about our skin cancer prevention work

Research and evaluation

We have gathered data on New Zealanders’ attitudes, behaviour and knowledge regarding sun exposure through both the Health and Lifestyles Survey (every two years) and the Sun Exposure Survey (every three years until 2016). 

View our sun safety research publications
 

In your community

We encourage SunSmart behaviours in our communities. 

  • Slip on a shirt/top with long sleeves and a collar.
  • Slip into the shade.
  • Slop on sunscreen that is at least SPF 30, broad-spectrum and water resistant. Apply 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours.
  • Slap on a hat with a wide brim or a cap with flaps.
  • Wrap on close fitting, wrap around style sunglasses.

Learn more at sunsmart.org.nz 

We have SunSmart resources that you can share with your community including your medical practice, whānau/family, workplace, sports club, community group, or school.

View resources
 

Sector support

To help support the early detection of skin cancer we organise conferences. In 2018 we supported the seventh NIWA UV Science Workshop and, in November, the fifth Melanoma Summit in New Zealand. Both these conferences are meetings for science and health professionals with an interest in UVR and/or skin cancer.

We work with community organisations and primary health care organisations to help deliver messages encouraging those most at risk of developing skin cancer (males aged over 50 years) to check their skin regularly.
 

Campaigns

Our work focuses on motivating high risk groups (people who socialise outdoors and outdoor workers) to protect themselves from exposure to UVR that causes harm.

This includes activities encouraging people to employ SunSmart behaviours (Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap) and promotion of UVR information, for example through the Sun Protection Alert. 

Our latest online video encourages you to protect yourself while outside from September to April, when UV levels are most dangerous, by using the SunSmart behaviours. 

Watch and share the video