New research into importance of skin surveillance to save lives from melanoma

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.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: the hidden skin cancer
22 Jun 2016

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: the hidden skin cancer

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare but aggressive skin cancer that is often hard to diagnose.

A meeting of the minds
02 Jun 2016

A meeting of the minds

MIA's doctors are converging on Chicago this week along with 40,000 delegates from around the globe at the biggest oncology conference in the world.

MIA's Dermatology services expanded
27 May 2016

MIA's Dermatology services expanded

We are pleased to announce a recent expansion to the dermatology services at Melanoma Institute Australia.

5 Minutes with Maria Gonzalez
20 May 2016

5 Minutes with Maria Gonzalez

This International Clinical Trials Day we reflect on the importance of clinical trials and the people who dedicate their lives to helping melanoma patients today and in the future.

Melanoma eBook to educate GPs
12 May 2016

Melanoma eBook to educate GPs

MIA has launched its first eBook Melanoma Essentials – A Concise Guide, a resource for GPs and other medical, nursing and allied professionals to help them effectively diagnose and manage cases.

5 Minutes with Dr Scot Ebbinghaus
05 May 2016

5 Minutes with Dr Scot Ebbinghaus

Dr Scot Ebbinghaus chats to us about an exciting clinical trial at MIA and where melanoma treatment is headed in the future.

Opdivo available on PBS for advanced melanoma patients
01 May 2016

Opdivo available on PBS for advanced melanoma patients

A new melanoma treatment has been listed on the PBS today, giving another option for advanced melanoma patients. 

5 Minutes with Dr Louise Jackett
27 Apr 2016

5 Minutes with Dr Louise Jackett

MIA's Pathology Fellow Dr Louise Jackett tells us why she's joined our fellowship program to learn from the best.

MIA patient's plight highlighted in ABC series
27 Apr 2016

MIA patient's plight highlighted in ABC series

MIA doctors and patient have featured in the final episode of ABC’s ground-breaking series Keeping Australia Alive.

Recruiting: Pregnancy and moles study
26 Apr 2016

Recruiting: Pregnancy and moles study

Specialist dermatologists at MIA are researching moles during pregnancy and we are looking for study recruits.

The role of radiotherapy in melanoma
22 Apr 2016

The role of radiotherapy in melanoma

New research is re-writing the textbooks on what we know about melanoma by highlighting the effectiveness of radiotherapy as a treatment, reversing a long-held belief that melanoma was resistant to radiotherapy.

Australian melanoma rates take the silver – and that's good news
31 Mar 2016

Australian melanoma rates take the silver – and that's good news

However, Australia's burden of melanoma will stay very high over the next 15 years unless we do more. MIA's Professor Graham Mann explains.

Australia unites taking small steps to make a big difference for melanoma research
23 Mar 2016

Australia unites taking small steps to make a big difference for melanoma research

Thank you to everyone involved in making Melanoma March 2016 a huge success

And they're off... Melanoma March 2016 begins!
29 Feb 2016

And they're off... Melanoma March 2016 begins!

Melanoma March 2016 has officially begun with more than 300 people marching in Rockingham and Devonport.

5 Minutes with Carole Renouf
29 Feb 2016

5 Minutes with Carole Renouf

MIA's new CEO Carole Renouf has been in her role only a month, but is already making plans for the future of MIA.

Opinion: Outing Melanoma
24 Feb 2016

Opinion: Outing Melanoma

In the wake of Susie Maroney's recent announcement that she is battling melanoma, CEO Carole Renouf's opinion piece weighs in on the critical need we have in Australia to raise awareness about melanoma. 

Congratulations Professor Georgina Long
22 Feb 2016

Congratulations Professor Georgina Long

MIA's Georgina Long has been appointed Professor and awarded a coverted prize in medial research.

Melanoma March 2016: Where your funds are going
19 Feb 2016

Melanoma March 2016: Where your funds are going

Melanoma March 2016 funding will be used to initiate an ambitious new project that will support the best possible care for melanoma patients around Australia through a new data and communication platform. 

New research shows long-term survival in group of advanced melanoma patients treated with BRAF inhibitors
05 Feb 2016

New research shows long-term survival in group of advanced melanoma patients treated with BRAF inhibitors

New MIA-led research has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Melanoma March 2016 is launched
02 Feb 2016

Melanoma March 2016 is launched

Melanoma March was officially launched today with the announcement of the national research project funded by the march.