It has been stated that 50% of melanomas arise from previously unmarked skin and the remaining 50% arise in existing moles or nevi. Up to the age of around 40, it is not uncommon for us to make new moles. After this time, the number of moles stabilises and then decreases. Any new mole appearing in someone older than 40, is hence regarded with greater suspicion. Equally, any changes in a pre-existing mole should be assessed for features of malignancy.
It has been long recommended that we should all have regular skin checks, particularly those who are at higher risk. The difficulty is how best to achieve this, when the reliability of remembering how many moles, where they are and what they look like is generally suboptimal. Photography provides an objective method of documentation and has been available for decades, but still requires human interpretation for comparison of sets of images.
So, whilst skin imaging is not new in the quest to detect melanoma skin cancer early, it is the sophisticated software that compares the sets of images and detects new moles as well as changes in existing moles that makes our new technology state-of-the-art, and makes the whole process of skin screening much more reliable.
Skin Search's Full Body Imaging involves photographing the patient in a minimum of 16 standard poses, which are designed to expose as much skin as possible. Ideally, brief underwear is recommended, jewellery and makeup are removed and long hair tied out of the way.
These standard poses are repeated for subsequent sessions. Each image is then processed and the site, size and shape of every mole is compared with the original images. Any differences between the two sets of images are then highlighted allowing us to examine any new orchanged moles more critically.
This advanced method of screening is most suited to those who are at increased risk of developing melanoma, such as those with Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome, who may have literally hundreds of unusual looking moles and for whom "simple skin checks" become a logistical nightmare.
In addition, this technology allows us to take and monitor dermoscopic (or microscopic) images of any suspicious lesion over a period of time. Serial Dermoscopy, as this is called, means fewer lesions need to be removed surgically for diagnosis.
Approximately 450,000 Australians are treated for skin cancer each year. It kills 1600 Australians every year. The majority of these deaths are preventable.
It is imperative to diagnose skin cancer early. This is true for all forms of skin cancer, but especially so for melanoma.