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.
MIA's Co-Medical Director Professor Richard Scolyer has received The University of Sydney Alumni Award for International Achievement.
More than 120 MIA clinicians, researchers and staff came together online to share research highlights.
For the 2nd consecutive year, MIA's Co-Medical Director Professor Richard Scolyer has been selected in the top 100 best, brightest, and most powerful advocates of pathology by The Pathologist.
As of Monday 27th July all patients and carers/family members coming into The Poche Centre will be required to bring their own mask.
In a recent issue of Cancer Cell journal, Prof Georgina Long AO and Prof Richard Scolyer discuss the challenge of bringing together clinical work and scientific research to underpin successful cancer research.
Clinicians around the world now have access to a new online calculator that predicts the risk that a patient’s primary melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Professor Long has been appointed as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia (General Division) for distinguished service to medicine, particularly, to melanoma clinical and translational research, and to professional medical societies.
“I had a complete response within about six months. All of my tumours disappeared."
‘We are extremely proud of our ongoing contribution to the global effort to save lives from melanoma, with Dr Silva’s prestigious award proof that we continue to lead the way,'
MIA's Co-Medical Director, Professor Richard Scolyer, has achieved a Google Scholar h-index of 100.
We know what Melanoma March means to our community, so when we had to cancel our physical events, we created Melanoma March Virtual so that everyone across Australia could still connect to honour loved ones and support each other.
A must-read personal account by Garry Maddox in The Sydney Morning Herald of how immunotherapy is revolutionising melanoma treatment.
On Friday, a publication that lays out the steps needed to find out if a systematic screening program for melanoma would benefit all Australians was published in the Australia & New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
Melanoma March events have been cancelled. A Virtual March will be held on Sunday 29th March. Read this statement from MIA CEO Matthew Browne.
Thank you to the thousands of Aussies who bought ‘Game On Mole‘ t-shirts, took selfies, shared t-shirt pics on social media and started lifesaving conversations around sun safety and skin health.
Melanoma patients now have greater access to subsidised immunotherapy thanks to additional treatments today being listed on the PBS.
Brisbane couple Leon and Tamra Betts were, like thousands of others around Australia, on the couch watching MAFS when newlywed Natasha ran through her weekly beauty routine. When they heard the 26-year-old mention solarium use, they were shocked, and then saddened, prompting this open letter to all young Australians.
Professor Richard Scolyer, Co-Medical Director of Melanoma Institute Australia, will welcome international attendees this weekend to a sold-out, two-day course on ‘Pigmented Lesions and Other Hot Topics in Dermatopathology’.
It is time for a reality check on solariums.
They have no place in anyone’s beauty routine.
Throughout January our community created, hosted and participated in some amazing events, each of them helping us on our quest to reach zero deaths from melanoma.