As the world awakens to consider its new normal in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technology is providing new hope in the fight against skin cancer, a disease that doesn’t respond to the idea of a pause.
May was Melanoma Awareness Month and with the Cancer Council reporting as many as 1 in 10 Australians have put off their usual health care checks during lockdown, experts are warning vigilance is the only way to combat this killer disease which claims as many as four lives every minute and accounts for more than 80% of all new diagnosed cancers*.
SkinVision, a revolutionary app that can detect suspicious looking skin spots via a smartphone photo has been offering consumers in Australia an option for remote skin checks since 2015. With cases continuing to rise each year, one of Australia’s leading not-for-profit health insurance providers CBHS has recognised the technology as vital for promoting early detection, offering the digital health solution to eligible members free of charge for an initial six-month period.
“We have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and this app can offer the first line of defence,” says Craig Jones, Head of Clinical and Provider Relations at CBHS.
Over the last decade, the annual cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, have increased by nearly 50% to over 287,000. This translates to more than 60,000 melanoma related deaths per year.**
“This is a credible new technology, overseen by reputable dermatologists, that offers very real benefits. Two out of three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, so we’re delighted to partner with SkinVision to bring our members the benefits of a significant advance in digital detection and prevention.” Mr Jones said.
Broni Scarce from SkinVision added “More people have engaged in therapeutic outdoor activity for both exercise and mental health during COVID-19 lockdown, so it can be expected that sun exposure may have increased also. The importance of regular skin checks has been elevated further and the app can offer a convenient option from the comfort of home.”
Once downloaded, the app enables users to take a photo of their suspicious mole or spot and using a CE marked, clinically validated algorithm, within 30 seconds, risk assessments based on the spots risk class are offered. If the spot in question is considered high risk, advice to see your local doctor or dermatologist is suggested as priority. If the spot is considered low risk, users can save photos in the app for future skin tracking. The app will send reminders to take new photos across the year to track any changes to the skin spot that may occur over time.
“We are thrilled CBHS has had the vision to offer the SkinVision app to their eligible members as a free service to trial for six months and we are confident other private health insurers will follow suit,” Ms Scarce said.
“Technology is changing the way we optimise our self care and by giving consumers the tools to encourage early detection it is also giving them the opportunity to seek treatment that could very well turn out to be life saving too.”
While skin cancer is not entirely preventable, routine checks are crucial for the early detection of skin cancer. If caught early, the chances of a successful treatment are estimated to be as high as 95%.***
SkinVision was founded in 2012 and provides a mobile phone application, which supports individuals with the early detection of the most common forms of skin cancer (melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and precancerous actinic keratosis). SkinVision is the first CE marked skin cancer application based on extensive clinical trials, conducted in partnership with Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) and the university clinic of Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU). Research shows the app has a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 78%. The SkinVision app is commercially available worldwide on iOS and Android except for a few countries, such as the United States and Canada. SkinVision is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The SkinVision Service is a Medical Device and is registered with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
About CBHS Health Fund
As a not for profit, member-owned health fund, CBHS Health Fund is a little different to other health insurers. Founded in 1951, the Commonwealth Bank Health Society was created to ensure that CBA employees had access to affordable private health care. Since then, we’ve grown into one of the largest member-owned health funds in Australia with over 200,000 members. Nothing matters more than our members’ health and happiness – so to make sure our members are looked after, we invest heavily into our internal support services, like our award-winning Member Care team, and push for innovative, effective initiatives like our Chronic Disease Management Programs and Hospital in the Home services. Find out more about CBHS at cbhs.com.au