Specialised melanoma clinics worthwhile
People at very high risk of melanoma would benefit from monitoring
Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the
A newly published study has shown that for people at very high
risk, specialised surveillance clinics would cut costs and improve
health outcomes, as melanoma would be detected earlier and fewer
unnecessary biopsies would be done. The study had 500 participants
who were at very high risk because they had had melanoma already or
had several relatives with melanoma.
The research was led by Dr Caroline Watts from the Melanoma Institute of Australia and
the School of Public Health and CTC's head of health economics,
Professor Rachael Morton.
The research is likely to lead to calls for new rebates in the
Medicare Benefits Scheme to support access to clinics that can
offer regular monitoring by total body and close-up digital
imaging. For people at risk, who develop many melanomas, close
monitoring would save more than $6800 per patient over 10 years.
Fewer moles would be unnecessarily cut out, and early detection of
melanomas would mean less extensive surgery would be required.
Current guidelines advise regular monitoring to ensure melanoma
is picked up at an early, curable stage. But until this study, it
had not been proven how often this should be done, or what the
costs and benefits would actually be in practice.
The Melanoma Institute and its partners in the study were funded
by Cancer Institute NSW to run the research. The participants in
the study were seen every 6 months, their moles photographed and
mapped via total body photography, and any changes over time
followed up with close-up sequential digital dermoscopy.
The next step for the research team is to complete detailed
estimates of potential costs and savings for the health budget.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical
Oncology. Link to