Mackay man Cory Geisler lost his battle with melanoma cancer on November 4, 2018.
Mackay man Cory Geisler lost his battle with melanoma cancer on November 4, 2018.

How a young man’s cancer death saved lives

CORY Geisler was 27 years old, happy, healthy and eager to change the world with his music when he found a suspicious mark on his body.

Six weeks and four days after a doctor's visit, his family was planning his funeral.

Two years after his death Mackay cancer specialists are still pointing to Mr Geisler's battle with melanoma as a turning point in the region's skin check rate.

Shakespeare Medical Centre doctor Graeme Cumming said Mr Geisler's death encouraged more people, particularly younger residents, to get their skin checked for cancer.

"We became exceptionally busy after that," Dr Cumming said.

"It sparked people to get help."

He said because of this Mr Geisler's death had saved lives.

Dr Cumming said every week he removed at least 20 skin cancers, ranging from basal cell carcinoma to life-threatening melanomas.

Shakespeare Medical Centre doctor and skin specialist Graeme Cumming said every week he removed at least 20 skin cancers, ranging from basal cell carcinoma to life-threatening melanomas. Picture: Contributed
Shakespeare Medical Centre doctor and skin specialist Graeme Cumming said every week he removed at least 20 skin cancers, ranging from basal cell carcinoma to life-threatening melanomas. Picture: Contributed

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But despite the tragic reminders, Dr Cumming said simple preventive measures were not being taken.

The Health of Queenslanders report 2020 said adults in the Mackay Hospital and Health Service had the second-highest rate of sunburns in the state, behind Torres and the Cape.

Nearly 60 per cent of Mackay residents said they had been burnt in the past 12 months, well above the state average of 49.3 per cent.

More than half of Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday children also reported nasty sunburns in the past 12 months, compared to the state average of 44.5 per cent.

Dr Cumming said every burn was adding to a person's lifetime cancer risk.

"We really need to get a lifetime history of not being sunburnt," he said.

"As the number of sunburns goes up the risk goes up.'

Mackay man Cory Geisler lost his battle with melanoma cancer on November 4, 2018.
Mackay man Cory Geisler lost his battle with melanoma cancer on November 4, 2018.

Dr Cumming said the outdoor lifestyle and warm weather in central Queensland meant there was a constant sun risk.

"To be genuinely safe (from high UV) in Mackay you have to stay out of the sun from 8am till after 4pm," he said.

But he said while it was disappointing residents were getting burnt, many were also getting regular checks.

"We're aware the areas with the most screenings have the least deaths," Dr Cumming said.

"We do pretty well in regards to screenings."

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The Health of Queenslanders 2020 Report said cancer was the biggest killer in the Mackay health service region.

An average of 279 people died each year between 2016-2018 because of malignant tumours.

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Cancer Council chief executive officer Chris McMillan said one in three cancer cases could be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices. Picture: Brendan Radke
Cancer Council chief executive officer Chris McMillan said one in three cancer cases could be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices. Picture: Brendan Radke

Cancer Council Queensland chief executive officer Chris McMillan said one in three cancer cases could be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices including being sun safe.

Ms McMillan said being sun smart was critical to reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.

"Cancer Council Queensland recommends using multiple forms of protection including: slip on protective clothing, slop on SPF 30 or above broad-spectrum water proof sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade, slide on wrap around sunglasses that meet the Australian standards," she said.

Signs that you need a skin cancer check

Shakespeare Medical Centre doctor Graeme Cumming said residents needed to remember the acronym SCAN.

S: Sore marks

C: Changing

A: Abnormal compared to other lesions

N: New


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