MELANOMA experts fear skin checks have been put into a pattern of detention during a coronavirus pandemic, with many people avoiding trips to their doctors.
Delays involving Melanoma Patient Australia CEO Victoria Beedle who is afraid of a world focus on COVID-19 prevents some people from assessing suspicious skin spots and from scheduling skin checks during public health emergencies.
President of the Queensland Medical Association Dilip Dhupelia confirmed that general practitioners reported a “dramatic decline” in patients who came for a preventive health check, compounded by fear of the new corona virus.
The pathology laboratory has reported a significant reduction in medical testing during the coronavirus pandemic, including analyzing tissue samples for cancer diagnosis.
Taking melanoma early, before they have the chance to spread to other parts of the body, greatly reduces the chance of someone dying from skin cancer.
While 97 Australians lost their lives due to COVID-19 during the pandemic, around 1700 are expected to die from melanoma this year, including more than 300 Queensland residents.
Beedle said Australian Melanoma Patients were also concerned that the public health restrictions introduced during the pandemic meant that some people spent more time outside the home in the park or exercising, increasing sun exposure and increasing the risk of developing melanoma.
Cancer remains Australia’s biggest cause of death, but about half of people who die before age 75 can delay it if they have a better education on this issue.
He said people in Queensland, in particular, had to protect themselves from the sun all year long.
Surgeon Mark Smithers said he had received fewer referrals to treat melanoma patients in the past three weeks than usual.
“It is true to say that there is little concern,” Professor Smithers said.
“People must not forget their skin and care for themselves.”
He advised Queensland residents to check their skin for cancer by doctors at least once a year.
Australian Melanoma patients have also launched a campaign for people to use the full moon to remind them to do a monthly self-check in between medical visits for skin checks.
Former swimsuit model based on the Gold Coast, Jessica Stafford was diagnosed with early stage melanoma after her doctor discovered a suspicious mole on the back of her right thigh in 2016.
“He saved my life,” Stafford said.
The 41-year-old man admitted that as a younger woman, he “foolishly” went to the solarium and spent “every moment” on the beach.
“That was 20 years ago and that’s what you do, especially in my industry,” he said.
Ms. Stafford hopes that by talking about her own story, she will encourage others to sunbathe and undergo regular skin checks.
Australia is once again ranked as the capital of the world melanoma, according to Queensland research. Data has revealed rates have increased in this country with the presence of melanoma declining in people under the age of 60 but increasing in Australia aged over 60.