WATCH: Surfers, swimmers needed for new study aimed at detecting skin cancers earlier

Surfers, swimmers, stand-up paddle boarders, cyclists and walkers from across the Gold Coast and Northern NSW are being urged to undergo a high-tech skin check as part of a new study aimed at detecting skin cancers earlier.

Southern Cross University researchers have teamed up with doctors from John Flynn Hospital for the study, which utilises cutting-edge FotoFinder mole mapping technology.

In 2020, the same researchers conducted an Australian-first study using traditional skin checking methods and found melanoma was 97 times higher in surfers and 34 times higher in swimmers than the general population.


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Professor Mike Climstein said the study garnered international attention, with researchers receiving funding for further study into melanomas and other skin cancers.

“This funding enabled our team to purchase a high-resolution digital dermatoscopic system that enables mole mapping and comparison, powered by artificial intelligence. Called FotoFinder, this new, high-tech scanner is state-of-the-art, enabling the clinician to document a person’s entire skin and individual moles over time and detect pathological changes as early as possible,” he said.

“Improved scanning capacity is particularly beneficial as early stages of melanoma development in high-risk individuals often lacks any specific recognised features of melanoma, and can be very small in size.

“This study aims to predict and identify skin cancer in high-risk individuals, which is critical to improving health outcomes and reducing skin cancer mortality rates.”

Learn more about the new study in the video below:

World-champion surfer and skin cancer-survivor Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew AM said skin cancers should be top of mind for surfers and swimmers.

“Any technology that can have earlier detection, is invaluable,” he said.

“Melanoma must be detected early. I want to encourage surfers, tradies, people who are out in the sun to go see a skin cancer specialist. I go four times a year, I have for many, many years, and it’s saved my life – there’s no doubt about it.”

How to take part in the study:
This research study into skin cancer is open to anyone aged 18 years and over who surfs, swims, stand-up paddleboards, cycles or walks year-round. Participants from the Gold Coast and the NSW
North Coast are invited to take part.

The study involves a skin check at Advanced Skin Cancer Practice located at the John Flynn Specialist Suites where participants will complete a short questionnaire followed by a comprehensive skin check using cutting-edge FotoFinder mole mapping technology.

The study is open now. Contact Julia on 07 5601 0495 to book a screening. Available days are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

To broaden the scope of the research, Southern Cross is also looking for industry partners to support the development of clinical biomarkers associated with the early detection and timely prevention of skin cancer.