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Local doctor explains how your mobile phone can alert you to a melanoma


BPH Dr Justin D'Arcy_1_lowresThis summer, a general surgeon from the Buderim Private Hospital who specialises in melanoma surgery will release an educational video explaining how to use your mobile phone to help alert you to the presence of a melanoma.

In a ‘Care to Share’ video to be released on Wednesday 16 January, Dr Justin D’Arcy encourages people to use the camera on their mobile device to monitor changes in the appearance of your skin, which can be an indicator of the presence of a melanoma.

“If you see something on your skin and wonder if it’s new or if it’s something that has been there for a while, take a photo of it with a ruler or coin beside it, wait a fortnight and take another photo and see if it’s changed,” Dr D’Arcy said.

“Wait another month after that and now you’ve got six weeks’ change on that lesion and if there is a change in your skin, this change will be the most important thing in alerting us to the presence of a melanoma,” he said.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers) accounts for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year, with Queensland having the highest national incidence and mortality rates.

Wallis Westbrook, General Manager of the Buderim Private Hospital, said Dr D’Arcy’s video will help with the early detection and awareness of skin cancers.

“In this digital age when almost everyone seems to have a mobile device with a camera, Dr D’Arcy’s advice to take a moment and use this technology as a tool to catch a melanoma in its early stages could be truly lifesaving,” Mr Westbrook said.

In the ‘Care to Share’ video, Dr D’Arcy also describes what symptoms to look out for and how the treatments for melanoma have advanced.

“Look out for a pre-existing mole that’s been present for many, many years as it may change in its colour, size, thickness, or it may bleed, become itchy, or it may develop some multi-coloured areas within it,” Dr D’Arcy said.

“Not all of the melanomas that we see are classical moles. About one in five of the melanomas that we see and treat have no pigment at all. These will only just have a little reddish colour to them and be raised like a lump,” he said.

“In other words, they just look like something innocuous that you’re allowed to have. Within a fortnight, simple non-threatening skin conditions usually disappear, but a melanoma doesn’t.”

Dr D’Arcy is an experienced surgeon who has practiced on the Sunshine Coast for more than 25 years. Dr D’Arcy performs regular melanoma-relates surgeries at the hospital, including sentinel lymph node biopsies which is an innovative surgical technique where sentinel or ‘guardian’ lymph nodes are identified, removed, and pathologically examined to determine whether cancer cells are present.

Buderim Private Hospital’s ‘Care to Share’ video series launched in 2017 and features relevant medical education from the hospital’s highly experienced doctors and clinicians.

Buderim Private Hospital has been serving the Sunshine Coast community since 1980 and is part of UnitingCare, which is the health and community service provider of the Uniting Church that supports thousands of people every day of the year through its well-known and respected services, including Blue Care and Lifeline.