World-first weapon against skin cancer

01 Feb 2022

nurse speaking to older womenSkin cancer is known as Australia’s national cancer, with Aussies having the highest incidences of skin cancer per capita in the world.

The staggering statistic is 2 out of every 3 Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by the age of 70.

Skin cancer kills one of us every five hours, and more of our young people than any other cancer.

And despite prevention campaigns and improved treatments, the statistics are not slowing down. 

Currently, skin cancer costs the Australian health system over $400 million a year, more than any other cancer.

Professor Marion Eckert, Director of the South Australian-based Rosemary Bryant AO Research Centre, and her team of distinguished medical and clinical researchers are embarking on Project Check Mate, to research a revolutionary world-first targeted pop-up skin cancer screening program, one that aims to train and empower nurses as ‘melanographers’ - to lead the fight against skin cancer through pop-up clinics, particularly in vulnerable regional areas. 

With the AI (artificial intelligence) technology now available in skin cancer detection use, the aim is to train some 3,000 primary care nurses across Australia in dermoscopy, a procedure performed with a handheld instrument called a dermatoscope, one which allows for the visualisation of subsurface skin structures not visible to the naked eye.

It’s believed the project could save the health system up to $80 million a year in late-stage cancer treatment and associated costs.

“On an even brighter note, it could save hundreds, maybe thousands of lives a year,’’ Professor Eckert notes.

Professor Eckert’s research has been funded through The Rosemary Bryant Foundation. It is an excellent illustration of the research which the Foundation aims to support – contributing to a practice change which has the potential to have a profound impact on a significant number of Australians who experience melanoma each year. 


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