We love our sun here in Newcastle.
But even when we do remember to “slip, slop, slap” there is still a risk of melanoma with sustained sun exposure. And that’s why we have some good news to share.
Local sun lovers can now have their skin checked using a new virtual MoleMap service – developed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MoleMap is the world’s largest database of skin lesions. With new technology, this contactless service is being used by melanographers in Australia and New Zealand to assess patient lesions remotely so they are able to refer high priority cases for further diagnosis and treatment.
The data showed that for every 100 patients screened, 282 suspect lesions were imaged with dermatologists finding a total of 12 skin cancers, including eight melanomas, one of which was a nodular melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
Associate Professor and MoleMap Dermatologist Helmut Schaider says that melanoma can progress quickly and it is critical to diagnose and treat early before the cancer cells enter the bloodstream.
“We know from personal experience and literature that melanomas and non-melanoma skin cancers can develop within weeks.
“This is the reason why certain patients at high risk with a lot of moles, a personal or family history of skin cancer and those immunosuppressed are under constant surveillance and need ongoing care.
“Once the melanoma has progressed through the skin and into the bloodstream it can spread to other parts of the body where it becomes much harder to treat,” he says.
Early identification by patients is being made even more efficient with the advancement in teledermatology, which Professor Soyer says empowers patients to better manage their own health care outcomes.
“We are relatively fortunate that the mobility restrictions placed on patients during COVID-19 did not last longer than they did.
“When it comes to the initial identification of potential melanoma, research suggests patients are quite adept at recognising a change in their moles. At the same time this high level of self-awareness can lead to anxiety when there are delays in diagnosis – such as those experienced under COVID-19,” he says.
The lockdown has accelerated the development of the new virtual skin cancer diagnostic service and enabled MoleMap to offer patient solutions now provided in both a virtual and physical environment.
You can find out more about MoleMap here.