World Melanoma Month – National Melanoma Hunt

Clinician inspecting person's back with a magnifying tool

National Melanoma Hunt – World Melanoma Month May 2021

Australia’s leading melanoma consumer organisation, Melanoma Patients Australia today launches a major public awareness campaign to find the nation’s 3036 melanomas undiagnosed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. *The campaign responds to the findings of a Cancer Australia report, which confirmed 3036 fewer surgeries for melanoma in 2020.  This campaign is launched during World Melanoma Month as part of a global response to ensure that that we can find the missing melanomas and save lives in collaboration with the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy.

Prof Mark Smithers AM, Melanoma Patients Australia Medical Advisor commented “We know that surgical removal of early stage melanoma is the most effective way to remove melanoma and reduce the risk of the cancer spreading. If detected early more than 90% of melanoma cases can be successfully treated with surgery.  The consequences of not catching melanoma early can be devastating and often fatal”

16,221 people were diagnosed with melanoma in 2020 and 1375 people died from the cancer and there are grave concerns that these figures could significantly increase in 2021 if life saving skin checks are missed.  Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australians (15 – 39 year olds), but incidence for people over 60 is high and increasing.

“This campaign can be a virus for good.  We want people to share our new ‘Finder’s Guide’ with at least six others they care about.  We all know someone that spends too much time sunbathing, or doesn’t protect their skin in the sun. Or maybe it’s a friend who’s a keen gardener or loves doing outdoor sports.  It might be someone who works outside for a living – a construction or postal worker.  Send the guide to them, and ask each of them to do the same with six others,” said Victoria Beedle, CEO MPA

“The human impact of Covid-19 pandemic clearly goes beyond the damage caused by the virus itself. National lockdowns and pressure on healthcare systems means other diseases, including potentially deadly melanoma, have gone undetected and untreated.  So, with our National Melanoma Hunt, we’re fighting back and declaring ‘open season’ on melanoma,” added Victoria Beedle.

“We want people to remember that the chances of beating melanoma are hugely increased if it is detected and treated early.  So, there’s never been a better time to introduce a monthly self-skin check into your routine.  Make it part of your new normal – it could be a 10-minute habit that saves your life,” said Victoria Beedle.

At the centre of the campaign is a downloadable ‘Finder’s Guide’, which explains the warning signs of melanoma skin cancer and sets out a 7-step process for conducting a full-body skin exam.

Some useful Skin Check tools have been created as part of the campaign:

  1. A voice-activated digital assistant ‘Skin Check’ app – Available (currently in English language only) on Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant platform, the app guides people through what to look for, and the seven steps for conducting a full-body skin exam. The assistant finishes by offering to set a recurring monthly reminder for the exam. To use the Alexa app, it should first be enabled by going to https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GLPWPX5/, then simply say “Alexa, open Skin Check”. To use the Google App, just say “Hey Google, talk to Skin Check”.
  2. A skin self-examination video – Similar in scope to the app, the video covers the ABCD&E warning signs of melanoma, and the seven steps for checking the body. Pauses between the seven steps have been included in the film, so that the viewer can simply take their phone or tablet into a bathroom, hit play, and follow the instructions in real time. Click here for the self-examination video

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