Did you know?
In New Zealand:
- 2 in 3 Kiwis will get skin cancer before turning 70
- More of us will die each year from skin cancer than die on our roads
- The cost of skin cancer to New Zealand is more than $57 million annually (and the removal of skin lesions is the most commonly claimed health insurance procedure)
- The average cost to treat melanoma is over $10,000
- There are over 2000 deaths from skin cancer each year in Australia
- Almost 1 million skin cancer treatments were reported to Medicare in the 2015 year with 13,283 new cases of melanoma in 2016
- Skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
- The incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK
- 2 out of 3 Australians will at some time be diagnosed with skin cancer
So the early detection is not only key to better patient outcomes – and survival – but is also key to reducing treatment costs (whether privately funded out of our own pocket, or by the public system).
Let’s ask ourselves whether we are doing all we can to turn some of our skin cancer stats around?
The traditional Western model of health – the “illness model” – is not well suited to helping detect skin cancer early. With early stage skin cancer often not having any discernible ‘illness’, a proactive approach to maintaining wellness is required.
Here are 5 reasons why much more CAN be done to help with the early detection of skin cancer:
1) Telemedicine (remote or virtual doctor consultations) – is used around the world to improve access to health care and to improve health outcomes. Telemedicine is well suited to skin conditions.
2) Teledermatology (remote or virtual skin doctor consultations) is widely accepted in Australia and New Zealand. It is used already within the medical profession.
3) Studies support the use of
* the use of consumer teledermatology (where consumers consult with doctors from home), and
* the economics of teledermatology
4) A December 2016 survey suggests that less than 4% of Kiwis and only about 20% Australians are getting the recommended skin checks by a medical professional. While a full body skin check by a skin specialist is the gold-standard in skin cancer detection, clearly the message to get in and get checked is not getting through. Interestingly, from the small minority getting full body skin checks, a considerable number are not the most in need. It has been suggested that up to 90% of people currently having skin checks are the “worried well” and not those at elevated risk of skin cancer. Many of those who are at the highest risk of skin cancer are not getting the timely specialist advice they need.
5) Up to 70% of melanomas (and more in the USA) are noticed by either the person themselves or a family member. Perhaps surprisingly, only 12% of melanomas are detected by doctors during a full body skin screening service. The balance are picked up opportunistically during clinical examinations unrelated to skin cancer. Studies have also shown that simple educational material can improve the likelihood that suspicious moles and lesions are detected by the person. This would suggest that there is a considerable opportunity for more than 70% of melanomas to be picked up by the person or a family member.
So, isn’t it obvious?
It screams out to us: if at least 70% of melanoma is already being noticed in the home, why not empower people with tools in the home to take action? Is that not the biggest opportunity to help detect skin cancer early?
Let’s arm the ‘first line of defence’ with the tools and technology to act.
Let’s empower people with the tools to get suspicious lesions checked easily.
We already know that teledermatology is an effective means of having individual lesions checked. So what if we could get suspicious lesions checked from home and in a timely manner?
Now we can.
Firstcheck, the latest in teledermatology technology – and the first of its kind – offers both a teledermatology consult with a skin specialist and an affordable dermatoscope (mole magnifying lens) to consumers. The Firstcheck skin check app is thereby improving access to skin specialists to facilitate the early detection of skin cancer – by making skin checks affordable and convenient.
Firstcheck is saving patients both time and money. Firstcheck has already helped in the early detection of many skin cancers since its launch – and is being successful in its aim to ensure skin cancer is caught early, to prevent avoidable treatment expenditure, and to prevent avoidable deaths.
Employing telemedicine in this field is an absolute no-brainer. Firstcheck has been developed alongside doctors – to help Australians and New Zealanders in the fight against skin cancer.
Now everyone has their local skin specialist in their back pocket and at their fingertips.
Help spread the word – and you might just save a life.