SCAN your skin for these worrying melanomas


SCAN your skin for these worrying melanomas

A new study reinforces the importance of checking your skin.

There are two main types of skin cancer – melanoma and non-melanoma. According to the NZ Ministry of Health melanoma is the most serious kind of skin cancer and New Zealand has the highest incidence rate in the world. Non-melanoma skin cancers are far more common than melanoma. However, they tend to be less serious than melanoma (as long as they are treated).

A recent New Zealand study from the University of Otago published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health show that 85.4% of melanomas are self‐detected by the patient – or by a family or friend (62.7% and 22.7%, respectively). Doctors/physicians first detected only 14.6% of all melanomas. The study confirms the message that regular checking of your own skin is both important and effective.

The August 2018 study also noted the importance of promptly having a doctor take a look at a suspicious spot once self-detected. This ensures the melanoma is removed before having a chance to spread. Helping people to have a doctor take a look at their suspicious spots is New Zealand smartphone app, Firstcheck. “Having skin spots checked is now as simple as snapping photos with your smartphone and sending them straight to a skin cancer expert for review,” says Hayden Laird, founder CEO of Firstcheck. “The Firstcheck app and specialised smartphone lens attachment enhance self-skin checks by enabling you to easily obtain an expert opinion direct from a local skin cancer doctor.”

What you should be checking your skin for

The Skin Cancer College of Australasia recommends that you “SCAN” your skin looking for spots or moles that are:

  • Sore: A spot which is sore (scaly, itchy, bleeding or tender) and doesn’t heal within 6 weeks
  • Changing: In appearance (size, shape, colour or texture)
  • Abnormal: Looks different, feels different, or stands out when compared to other spots and moles
  • New: Spots that have appeared recently


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