Olympic star calls for melanoma campaign

·2-min read

Champion Olympic swimmer Cate Campbell says sport has a huge role to play in tackling melanoma, with players and fans alike encouraged to be sun smart when attending games.

The four-time gold medallist, who herself had a melanoma removed in 2018, added her voice to calls for a national, long-term and modernised campaign to encourage sporting clubs to elevate sun safety's importance.

Reflecting on her own experiences growing up without enough regard for sun safety, Campbell called on sporting bodies to lift their game.

"I'm thinking back to the hours that I spent sitting next to an unshaded swimming pool - cricket comes first to mind because they are out there for hours and hours on end," she said.

"But we have a real opportunity to make real, tangible changes and a real difference and it starts with changing the narrative ... what can we as an organisation, what can the Australian Olympic Committee or what can the sports governing bodies do to protect their athletes?"

Melanoma Institute Australia director Georgina Long said clubs must implement sun-safe strategies at all levels, including swapping caps for broad-brimmed hats, providing long-sleeve playing kits and ensuring sunscreen is available and applied.

Professor Long called for the federal government to commit to a long-term campaign to reach children and teenagers, noting melanoma is the most common cancer among young Australians aged 20 to 39.

"No one sport is being singled out here, this is a sport-wide problem which requires a sport-wide solution," she said.

"We need to recalibrate our sporting culture from grassroot levels right up to the very top."

Campbell also called for increased funding for research and treatment of "Australia's national cancer".

"More Australians lose their lives to melanoma than die on the roads each year ... if nothing is done by 2030, another 14,000 Australians will succumb to this disease at a cost of $8.7 billion," she said.

"But the actual cost, the human cost, is so, so much worse."