Using new technology to prevent melanoma

Using new technology to prevent melanoma

14 December 2017

Innovation offers hope to melanoma patients from early detection to advanced medical therapies that are extending patient lives. But how is innovation helping prevent melanoma in the first place?

Appealing to vanity to prevent skin cancer

Getting people – particularly adolescents – interested in melanoma can be a challenge. But programmer and dermatologist/researcher Dr Titus Brinker decided to take up the challenge by developing an app called Sunface.

Dr Brinker recently presented Sunface at the World Congress of Melanoma in Brisbane where his app created quite a stir amongst the audience. The app taps into your vanity by turning your own selfie into a wrinkly and UV-damaged version of your future self.

“The idea behind the app is to get people who are interested in their outward appearance to also become interested in melanoma,” says the app’s creator, Dr Brinker who developed the app while at Essen University, Germany. “We all care about how we look, particularly young people, so it made sense to create an effective motivator by appealing to vanity instead of appealing to their health.”

The app uses data from randomized clinical trials from Australia and around the world to generate realistic changes that may develop over time with different levels of sun protection. After taking a selfie and nominating your skin type, the user is offered three categories to choose from: "daily sun protection", "no sun protection" and "weekly sunbed", and they can look at their future face over time, from 5 to 25 years. It can also add on common UV-induced skin cancers, like melanoma. Importantly, the app also gives advice on sun protection and how to detect skin cancer on your own skin.

“I made this app to improve skin cancer prevention, as I firmly believe that prevention is better than cure,” says Dr Brinker.

Sunface is a free app and available to download through iTunes and Google Play.  

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Making prevention accessible (sunscreen when you need it)

We have all been caught outside on a hot day and forgotten our sunscreen at some time in our lives. In fact, it was a trip like this to the beach with his family that gave Ed Joris the idea to develop outdoor sunscreen dispensers, making sunscreen readily available at beaches, schools and parks across Australia.

Together with his brother Anton Joris, they recently launched Australia’s first sunscreen spray station through their business Sunscreen Stations Australia.

“We looked at the market and concluded that the problem wasn’t branding, pricing or education, but the availability of affordable sunscreen where people needed it most,” says Ed. “This marked the beginning of our journey in developing innovative sunscreen spray stations where Australians need it most.”

Using your credit card or debit card to pay, the stations allow customers to select how much SPF 50+ sunscreen they want dispensed via a smooth mist. The sunscreen is suitable for sensitive skin and completely biodegradable.

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“With such high rates of skin cancer in Australia, it makes sense to have these sunscreen stations readily available in convenient locations,” says Ed. “So there is no excuse to lather up and stay safe in the sun!”