Victorian GPs will be able to detect skin cancer earlier, saving local lives and unnecessary procedures, thanks to a SunSmart training program funded by Cancer Council donors and the Victorian Government.
Participants of Cancer Council Victoria’s Longest Day endurance golf challenge raised more than $200,000 in 2018 for Victorian GPs to receive training to assist in the early detection of skin cancer. The Victorian Government has also contributed $295,000 to continue the program, which will enable almost 170 Victorian GPs in total to take part in the training and receive a dermatoscope.
A dermatoscope is a specialised microscope for the skin, which allows doctors to look more closely at skin lesions than with the naked eye. This improves early detection of skin cancer, resulting in more lives saved, less unnecessary procedures and people accessing resources where they are most needed.
Cancer Council Victoria Head of SunSmart Heather Walker said GPs across Victoria have been invited to apply for a chance to receive a dermatoscope and training, with SunSmart overwhelmed by the response they have received so far.
“This program provides important tools and training for the early detection of skin cancer to GPs across Victoria, particularly in regional and rural parts of the state where access to training can sometimes be limited,” Ms Walker said.
“The outcome of this important program will mean that more Victorians, no matter where they live.”
Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia, with two in three Australians diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70. In a single year, 2,993 people were diagnosed with melanoma, and more than 380 other skin cancers were treated each day in Victoria. However, if found early, most skin cancers can be successfully treated.
“It’s crucial that skin cancer is picked up early – that’s why we’re investing in cutting edge practices to boost patient survival, including specialised microscopes to detect lesions,” Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said.
“This program is boosting the skills of hardworking GPs across the state, helping them to detect skin cancer as soon as possible – because we know that early treatment can save lives.”
GP Rob Jeffs, who received a dermatoscope and took part in last year’s training, said he felt “very lucky” to take part in the program.
”I’ve got a tool that will allow me to perform my job better for my patients, and that will happen on a very, very regular basis,” Dr Jeffs said.
“Thanks to these people that have donated and raised money through the fun of having a good golf day out, and through their generosity, we can actually make that difference happen.”
In thanking The Longest Day participants, Andrew Buchanan, Fundraising Director at Cancer Council Victoria, said: “We work to reduce the impact of all cancers for all Victorians, but it simply isn’t possible without the support of people like our Longest Day participants and donors,” Mr Buchanan said.
The Longest Day is a 72-hole endurance golf challenge in December that raises funds for Cancer Council Victoria. Participants commit to playing four rounds of golf in one day at their own club with their friends and fellow members.
To find out more about the Longest Day visit: www.longestday.org.au
SunSmart’s Dermoscopy for Victorian General Practice Program is available for Victorian GP practices in 2019, with a focus on rural and regional practices. GPs are encouraged to register their interest for the program, with training cohorts offered in June and September this year.
For more information about the SunSmart dermoscopy program visit www.sunsmart.com.au/dermoscopy
About early detection of skin cancer
Most skin cancer can be successfully treated it is found early. But without treatment, skin cancer can become deadly. In 2017, 387 Victorians died from skin cancer, including 270 from melanoma.
Cancer Council recommends Victorians get to know their skin and what looks normal for you to help you find changes earlier.
Get into the habit of checking your skin regularly. Check all of your skin, not just sun-exposed areas. If you notice anything unusual, including any new spots, or change in shape, colour or size of a spot, visit your doctor as soon as possible.
Checking your skin regularly is also important if you have naturally dark skin. Although your risk of melanoma is lower, it is more likely to be found at a later, more dangerous stage than people with lighter skin.
There is no screening program for skin cancer, including melanoma, due to insufficient evidence that it reduces mortality.