Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Shepparton skin specialist needs support

Shepparton Skin Clinic owner Dr Stephen Hook is looking to attract skin specialists to the region due to the high number of residents with skin cancer.

RIAHN SMITH January 12, 2013 4:35am

Dr Stephen Hook is hoping to attract skin cancer specialists to Shepparton.

A Shepparton doctor is hoping to attract more skin cancer specialists to the region to service its high levels of skin cancer.

Shepparton Skin Clinic owner Dr Stephen Hook said the area had twice as many incidents of skin cancer than the national average despite being further south than the traditional areas of concern in Queensland and NSW.

Dr Hook said there were about 200 cases of melanoma per 100000 people in Shepparton each year, compared to 80 to 100 per 100000 nationally.

‘‘There’s no doubt Shepparton is one of the towns in Australia with the highest incidence of skin cancer. Along with Townsville and Cairns, we’re right up there,’’ he said.

‘‘I think that’s because of our lifestyle in Shepparton. Everybody’s into sport and there’s a lot of farming and people are outdoors a lot.

‘‘Plus we have clear skies for a lot of the year (and) a lot of high UV index on frequent occasions.’’

Dr Hook completed his fellowship at the Australasian College of Skin Cancer Medicine last month — a special interest qualification within general practice medicine — making him one of only a handful of skin cancer fellows in Victoria.

He said the fellowship, which involved five years of study, practical case work and exams, would allow him to mentor other doctors who were keen to pursue further study in the skin cancer field.

‘‘There’s not many fellows in Victoria doing this sort of work (but now) I’ll be able to actually bring someone here and ... teach them,’’ Dr Hook said.

‘‘It (the fellowship) gives you that little bit more confidence that you can train somebody and hopefully expand the services, which are definitely needed in the town.

‘‘Already we’re starting to get a lot of referrals from regional doctors and a lot of people from outlying towns are coming, Kyabram, as far as Mansfield, Yarrawonga so it’s getting quite busy.’’

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