Skin cancer epidemic
By REN LANZONnewsroom@gladstoneobserver.com.au
WITH summer in full swing, Gladstone doctor Stephen Rigby believes skin cancer rates have reached "epidemic proportions''.
Dr Rigby, who has been in general practice in Gladstone since he arrived in 1977 and a GP for nearly 30 years, now devotes two days each week to cancer treatment.
"The demand for treatment is unbelievable ? I've been reluctant to advertise the surgery because of the volume of work I've had,'' he said.
Dr Rigby said he was shocked by the number and the severity of the cancers in the Gladstone area.
He said his own experience led him to believe that skin cancer was more common in Central Queensland than further south due to the intense ultra-violet radiation.
The most up-to-date Queensland Cancer Fund statistics reveal that 21 people in Central Queensland died from melanoma of the skin in 2001.
Kay Niven was lucky to avoid such a fate.
Mrs Niven said she had ignored what had seemed like a scaly rash on her nose even though she had previously had two other melanoma removed from her neck and and forehead.
"I feel lucky that Dr Rigby found it before it spread further,'' she said.
There remains little trace of the surgery although she had seven stitches on the nose after the cancer was cut out. Dr Rigby said some cancer malignancies could gnaw through bone and cartilage, destroying enough tissue to become lifethreatening.