Nova Scotia has some of highest rates of melanoma in Canada

28 May 2014

Halifax, NS -

Females in Nova Scotia have the highest rates of melanoma in Canada, with their male counterparts ranking second behind Prince Edward Island males, according to a special report on skin cancer in the 2014 Canadian Cancer Statistics

These Nova Scotia stats are another alarming statistic accompanying the news that skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada, and one of the fastest rising with an estimated 6,500 new cases expected to be diagnosed in 2014. This will account for nearly the same number of new cancer cases as the 4 major cancers combined – lung, breast, colorectal and prostate.

“National surveys over the last two decades show us that Canadians have actually increased their time in the sun and they are not protecting themselves properly,” says Dr. Peter Green, chair of Sun Safe Coalition, Associate Professor at Dalhousie University and contributor to the Canadian Cancer Statistics special section on skin cancer. “Even more alarming, we know that young women are using indoor tanning facilities more than they did in the past.

Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer through protective sun behaviour, yet prevention efforts have had limited success in Canada. The risk of skin cancer is higher among certain traits—those with fair skin, red hair or multiple or atypical moles; and associated with certain behaviours—intense and intermittent exposure to the sun.

"Here in Nova Scotia, we see our behaviours in line with those that put us at greater risk,” says Kelly Cull, Manager of Government and Partner Relations, Canadian Cancer Society, Nova Scotia Division. “We have a shorter warm season with sun, lots of coastline and beaches and many who do a winter vacation in a sunny climate.  Our behaviour towards the sun and intense bursts of UV exposure may contribute to this higher rate of melanoma."

During the upcoming summer months, the Canadian Cancer Society will begin an awareness campaign within Nova Scotia to de-normalize tanning, particularly among young adults ages 15-39. The Society will aim to challenge the existing pro-tanning culture through education at community events, social media, public relations, advertising and video.

"Nova Scotia was one of the first provinces to introduce restrictions on tanning bed use in Canada with the Nova Scotia Tanning Beds Act. This act banned access to commercial tanning beds for those under the age of 19,” says Cull. “We want to continue to be a leader when it comes to rethinking tanning. This goal is even more important now knowing that Nova Scotia has some of the highest rates of melanoma in Canada."

The Canadian Cancer Society is encouraging Nova Scotians to practice sun safety to help reduce their risk of skin cancer. That includes: avoiding outdoor activities between 11am and 4pm, when the UV Index is typically 3 or more; limiting outdoor activity to a brief amount in the midday sun; wearing protective clothing, broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses; and, using sunscreen properly.

The Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014, released today also noted patterns in general cancer statistics within Canada. In Nova Scotia, in both sexes the age-standardized incidence rate for all cancers combined is higher in Nova Scotia compared to a national average. In males, this is mainly due to the higher rates of lung, colorectal, bladder cancer and melanoma in the province. In females, this is mainly due to the higher rates of lung, colorectal, kidney cancer and melanoma in the province.

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014 was prepared through a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and provincial and territorial cancer registries. For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014, visit

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Building on our progress, we are working with Canadians to change cancer forever. For more information, visit or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).


For more information or to speak with a Canadian Cancer Society Nova Scotia Division spokesperson, contact:

Heather Spriet

(902) 423-6183 ext 222