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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Queensland hospital joins world’s largest skin cancer project

Health Industry Hub | February 19, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: Marking a milestone in the world’s largest skin cancer imaging trial, Mount Isa Hospital in rural Queensland has joined the $10 million Australian Centre of Excellence in Melanoma and Imaging (ACEMID) research project.

Spearheaded by three leading universities – the University of Queensland, Monash University, and the University of Sydney, the ACEMID study aims to enrol 15,000 participants and involves over 45 researchers along with consumer advocacy organisations, MSCAN and Melanoma Patients Australia.

At the core of this project is 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.

Professor Monika Janda from UQ emphasised the study’s significance, stating, “This study links 15 metropolitan, regional, and rural hospitals and health services across Australia for participants to receive advanced melanoma imaging, enabling early detection and better health outcomes.”

Professor Peter Soyer, UQ’s Chair in Dermatology, and Director of the Dermatology Research Centre at UQ’s Diamantina Institute, shed light on the primary use of the total body photography system.

“The system will track changes in skin lesions, a tell-tale sign of developing skin cancer,” he said. “Genomics, combined with known clinical risk factors, could help unlock and determine those at the highest risk of developing the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma.”

The study aims to identify predictors such as the number of moles, skin pigmentation, and hair colour to pinpoint individuals most at risk. For those identified as high risk, a personalised screening program involving more frequent check-ups, whole body imaging, mobile phone technology, and microbiopsy for molecular detection of skin cancers will be implemented.

With over 4,820 participants enrolled to date, the team continues to seek expressions of interest. The research anticipates not only saving lives but also potentially reducing the overall economic burden of advanced melanoma cases by up to $162 million annually, based on a 50% reduction of Stage III and IV cases.

Furthermore, the images captured within the ACEMID project will be instrumental in developing artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms for the detection of various skin conditions, including skin cancers, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. The future of early detection could involve 3D total body photography, analysed by AI to highlight any suspicious lesions.

Adding another layer to this cutting-edge research, Professor Rachael Morton, a leader in health economics at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, the University of Sydney, and a key figure in ACEMID, has been awarded a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant. Her project will explore the effectiveness of digital versus face-to-face services for skin cancer diagnosis over four years, which commenced in December 2023.

The heart of the project lies in the development of a health economic model, designed to compare the relative costs and benefits of continuous monitoring using digital services (3D total body imaging, digital dermoscopy, and AI-driven lesion diagnosis) against face-to-face services for skin cancer diagnosis. This comparison will be enacted across various healthcare settings, shedding light on the practicality and efficiency of integrating this technology into standard clinical care scenarios.

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