Melanoma surgeon at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Professor Mark Smithers, issued a timely reminder to all Queenslanders on World Melanoma Day that fear of COVID-19 should not get in the way of a simple skin check that could prevent a life-threatening diagnosis.
“People shouldn’t forget about their skin checks and looking after themselves.”
While the nation’s COVID-19 death toll is 97, about 1700 people are expected to die as a result of melanoma this year, including more than 300 Queenslanders.
Prof Smithers said he had received fewer referrals to treat melanoma patients in the past several weeks than usual and is worried skin checks have been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, with people avoiding trips to their doctors.
“It is concerning and we must constantly reinforce the message that melanoma can be prevented,” Professor Smithers said, advising that people should get their skin checked for cancers by a doctor at least once a year.
“A delay in a melanoma diagnosis can be really disastrous, even a matter of a few weeks or months”.
According to Professor Smithers, picking up melanomas early, before they have a chance to spread to other parts of the body, greatly decreases a person’s chances of dying from the skin cancer.
“Melanoma can be a very deadly disease, but when diagnosed early we cure people,” Prof Smithers said.
Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world with the PA Hospital playing a pivotal role in cancer diagnosis and treatment in Queensland.