Breast, bowel, cervix and lung cancer all have national screening programs. But what about skin?

Surely a country with an incidence rate 12 times the global norm would have a
coordinated national early detection program.

Every year this insidious disease kills an average of one Aussie every six hours, and despite tens of millions of dollars being spent rehashing slip, slop, slap prevention campaigns, skin cancer isn’t slowing down.

There has been a 30% jump in the number of people flooding emergency departments for sun burn.

Thankfully, a petition to parliament calling for support of a targeted national skin check program is currently open for signatures. If enough people sign it, the issue will be tabled in the House of Representatives and referred to relevant ministers for urgent attention.

It closes on the 13th of December (only 10 days to go).

This petition is an initiative of a non-profit charity called Skin Check Champions, who as their name suggests, are all about improving access and awareness for the early detection of skin cancer. Over the past 13 years since losing one of their mates to melanoma, the group have provided over 10,000 free, educational skin checks to people in high risk communities all around Australia. Finding thousands of cancers along the way.

To fund this work they’ve sold a beard for a million dollars, partnered with brands like La Roche-Posay and last summer you might have seen their risqué campaign with Spencer Tunick which saw over 2,500 people watch the sunrise at Bondi in nothing but their skin.

The charity recently completed a research pilot of their screening model with the University of South Australia. Its codename is ‘Project Check Mate’, and it identifies and trains nurses in rural areas and brings free, pop-up skin check clinics to events in their local towns which attract high risk cohorts. A critical factor in this model is the introduction of Artificial Intelligence which adds another layer of analysis to each skin check. In milliseconds the technology can compare a dermatoscopic image to a database of cataloged and tested lesions – suggesting what type of skin cancer it might be with a 1-100 degree of certainty.

It’s a revolutionary model and the first time something like this has been trialed in such a rigorous way. The charity hopes the results will prove it to be the most efficient and effective model an Australian Government has been presented with, justifying public investment to save more Aussies from skin cancer. Particularly in remote and regional areas where people don’t have access and Local Healthcare Networks are already under
significant pressure. By working alongside other organisations in the skin cancer space, Skin Check Champions hopes to put the best possible roadmap for a screening program to make skin cancer history.

“The reality is that 2 in 3 Aussies right now are likely to get some form of skin cancer.” says
Scott Maggs, Founder & CEO of Skin Check Champions.

“If we don’t push this concept now a lot of those people could die. And after seeing what happened to our mate Wes, it’s something no one should have to battle with”.

The charity is inviting everyone who has been affected by skin cancer to share their story on social media along with a link to the petition and the hashtag #SkinCheckChampions.

One of those was media icon Deborah Hutton who made an appearance on the Morning Show last week calling on Australian’s to sign the petition and make a difference:
Deborah said

“My message has always been ‘go and get checked’ yet some people don’t have
access or can’t afford the service, so it’s vital the government support this initiative”

Right now, just before summer, it’s a great reminder to look after our skin, stay safe out there and of course… to get checked. Signing the petition is free, takes 20 seconds and it could literally save lives.