New research into importance of skin surveillance to save lives from melanoma
4 November 2021
New research has provided evidence that routine skin checks by a health professional, coupled with checking your own skin, are vital in saving lives from melanoma – the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Australia has the highest melanoma rates in the world, with one person dying every 6 hours from the disease. Melanoma is also the most common cancer in 20 to 39-year-olds.
The first sign of melanoma is often a new or changing spot or mole on the skin, and the ABCDE guidelines are a helpful tool to identify a melanoma. However, melanoma can vary greatly in its appearance and many subtle clues can only be detected by a trained healthcare professional using a magnifying tool, known as a dermatoscope, to check the skin.
The research, published today in the prestigious journal JAMA Dermatology, found that in a group of 2,452 patients diagnosed with melanoma, slower-growing melanomas were more likely to be detected at a routine skin check and be thinner, whereas faster-growing melanomas were more likely to be patient-detected and thicker. It was estimated that patients whose melanoma was detected by their doctor during a routine skin check were 32% less likely to die from melanoma compared to patients who identified their own melanoma.
The study also found that melanomas easily detected using the ABCDE rule were more likely to be detected by the patients (70%), whereas atypical ones were more often detected by a doctor during a routine skin check.
“This evidence highlights the importance of not only knowing your own skin and seeking advice from your doctor if you notice any changes but also the critical role of trained healthcare professionals for detecting melanomas early, before they have had a chance to spread,” said study author Prof Richard Scolyer AO, pathologist and Co-Medical Director of Melanoma Institute Australia.
Current Australian guidelines recommend that individuals at very high risk of melanoma receive full skin examinations every 6 months. However, melanoma screening programs for the general population are not currently undertaken in Australia because of inadequate evidence that melanoma screening ultimately saves lives, uncertainty about overdiagnosis and unnecessary biopsy, and limited evidence that it is cost effective.
In the last decade there has been renewed interest in melanoma screening, driven by the changing landscape of melanoma care.
“We found that melanoma detection during a routine skin check was associated with lower risk of dying from any cause, but it was not statistically significant for melanoma-specific mortality,” said cancer epidemiologist and lead author Prof Anne Cust, from Melanoma Institute Australia, The Daffodil Centre and The University of Sydney. “Based on our early findings, the cost-effectiveness of a population melanoma screening program should be re-assessed, and a large randomised controlled trial is needed to provide definitive evidence.”
Melanoma Institute Australia has recently launched its ‘Game On Mole’ awareness campaign which uses slogan t-shirts to start conversations about melanoma early detection, and urges Australians to take photos of their skin and monitor for any changes.
To join the campaign and buy the ‘Game On Mole’ t-shirt, go to www.gameonmole.com.au.
Cancer Australia releases 'stage at diagnosis' data for top five incidence cancers – including melanoma
For the first time in Australia, national data has been released on cancer stage at diagnosis. This data explores the top five incidence cancers – female breast cancer, colorectal, lung, prostate cancers and melanoma.
'Dear Emma' - a tribute to the life and times of a young woman determined to raise awareness about melanoma.
Carole Renouf, CEO for MIA thanks Toyota for helping fuel ongoing melanoma research.
Fraser Dykes tackled the Kokoda Trail on an eight day trek in memory of his friend Mark 'Bod' Boddison.
Harvard’s Clinical Professor Martin Mihm and MIA’s Conjoint Medical Director Professor Richard Scoyler delivered a series of lectures on melanoma pathology in Vancouver, British Colombia this week at the world’s biggest annual pathology meeting.
A round of applause for a well deserved win.
A message from our CEO, Carole Renouf
Piction, Brisbane, Bahturst and Port Macquarie march to end melanoma.
Australian researchers have greater clarity on the best course of treatment for patients with advanced melanoma which has spread to the brain.
Melanoma treatment has come a long way in recent times, and the role that nurses play caring for melanoma patients has changed dramatically too.
It was a massive weekend of Melanoma Marches with six Marches in: Bendigo, Canberra, Manly, Newcastle, Bunbury and Adelaide.
Weekend two hit the ground marching with Melanoma Marches in Wollongong, Townsville, Mandurah and Western Sydney.
Melanoma Institute Australia's annual fundraising initiative is all systems go!
The reported proliferation of illegal commercial solariums is costing lives and requires urgent government intervention.
15-year-old melanoma survivor Toby Rayner will lead Mount Gambier’s march against melanoma Julie-Ann Sams knows all too well that melanoma doesn’t discriminate.
Updated guidelines defining appropriate excision margins have been published thanks to research from MIA.
Joanne and her trusty companion Frankie spend their days spreading a message of hope in hospitals, nursing homes, even prisons. It is a long way from her darkest hour facing palliative care. This is her story of hope.
Melanoma impacts more Australian teenagers and young adults than any other cancer. Dr James Wilmott, who has a young family of his own, has devoted his career to determining why these young Australians are susceptible to melanoma, and importantly, how to save them.
Melanoma Masterclass celebrates Australian luminaries who have transformed melanoma treatment worldwide
The extraordinary contribution of Australia’s most distinguished melanoma clinicians and researchers is being celebrated today.