UQ researchers progress a national blueprint for melanoma screening

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University of Queensland researchers will lead the creation of a national blueprint for screening melanoma - one of Australia’s most common and deadly cancers.

Australia has the highest melanoma rates in the world with around 16,000 people diagnosed every year.

Professor Monika Janda from the UQ Centre for Health Services Research will head the research team after being awarded a $5 million Synergy Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

“This research program will answer some key questions about who needs skin screening, how often people should be screened, the most trustworthy and cost-effective risk-tailored screening pathways, and the role of digital technologies in improving the screening examination," said Professor Janda.”

“Based on the evidence, the team will then outline the best design for a future screening program.”

While there are cancer screening programs for bowel, breast and cervical cancer, there is no program for melanoma that claims the lives of 1,700 Australians annually.

“A screening program could formalise the process of skin checks across Australia and prevent more serious melanomas,” said Professor Janda.

“Studies show that people who have had a skin examination over the past three years are more likely to have thinner and therefore more curable melanomas."

The research has been further enabled through the Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s (ACRF) Australian Centre of Excellence in Melanoma Imaging and Diagnosis. It will roll out 15 total body imaging machines that create a 3D avatar of a patient to better track and detect changes to spots on the skin.