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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Clinicians join researchers and patient groups in championing the call for a melanoma screening program

Health Industry Hub | February 26, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: In establishing a national targeted melanoma screening program, Melanoma Institute Australia and the Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) have unveiled Position Statements. The move is aimed at aligning efforts to combat melanoma mortality, echoing successful screening programs for bowel and breast cancer.

Highlighting the urgency of such a program, Professor Georgina Long AO and Professor Richard Scolyer AO, co-medical directors of the Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA), emphasised the mission of zero deaths from melanoma.

“The need for a national melanoma screening program was highlighted in the landmark ‘State of the Nation in Melanoma Report’ and emphasised last month during our Australian of the Year acceptance speech,” Professor Long and Professor Scolyer stated. “We are delighted to have presented this evidence-based Position Statement to the government and look forward to working collaboratively to develop this vital melanoma screening program.”

Automated diagnostic tools and artificial intelligence (AI) programs, though not ready for immediate use, show immense promise in enhancing the accuracy of skin cancer detection. In fact, the world’s largest skin cancer imaging trial, the $10 million Australian Centre of Excellence in Melanoma and Imaging (ACEMID) project led by Australian researchers, uses the Canfield Scientific’s Vectra whole body 360 imaging system, boasting 92 cameras that simultaneously capture nearly the entire skin surface in high-quality resolution. This innovative technology constructs a 3D digital avatar, allowing for the tracking of spots and moles over time.

The Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) has also issued its own Position Statement on targeted population-based screening for melanoma. Endorsed by Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA) and the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Advocacy Network (MSCAN), the statement provides insights into the current evidence base.

Dr Adriene Lee, President of ACD, stressed the pivotal role dermatologists play in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of melanoma and other skin cancers.

She noted “Our position statement indicates that currently there is not enough scientific evidence to show that population-based screening for melanoma reduces mortality. Research, however, does suggest that screening may be cost-effective if targeted towards high-risk populations.”

In Australia, the Melanoma Screening project, a multidisciplinary initiative funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), is already underway. This $5 million project, spanning from January 2022 to December 2026, brings together a diverse team of clinicians, researchers, and consumers across multiple states to address challenges and provide evidence for an optimal approach, feasibility, and costs of a proposed future screening program.

Tamara Dawson, Founder and Director of MSCAN, welcomed the ACD’s position statement and emphasised the need for ongoing investment in research.

She said “The effectiveness of any screening program depends on appropriate risk stratification and diagnostic accuracy. The position statement provides a valuable reminder of the need for national investment to scale targeted initiatives and partnerships that support and upskill health professionals.”

Victoria Beedle, CEO of MPA, underlined the importance of community involvement, stating “ACD’s position statement provides a timely reminder to the community that we all have a role to play. Early detection is only one part of the battle against skin cancer in Australia. Most skin cancers in Australia are due to excessive exposure to UV, making skin cancer one of the most preventable cancers.”

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