The video will help with checking your skin for irregularities, or you can see our visual guide to self checking and identifying melanoma.
Researchers recently collected data from dermatologists across the globe and found that one third of appointments are being missed. They estimate this has led to 21% of melanomas failing to be diagnosed in 2020.
The reason is another disease, Covid-19, which has brought restrictions and a feeling that avoiding medical facilities makes sense. We do completely understand but there is a danger of swapping one disease for another.
Marrying the research data with melanoma incidence figures suggests that over 60,000 melanomas have gone undiagnosed globally, almost 4000 in the UK.
If you were to add other skin cancers into the equation, some of which carry significant health risks, the figure would be far higher. We are though especially concerned about melanoma, due to the mortality rate if not treated.
Lockdowns during the pandemic have reduced professional skin checks and continue to but there are alternatives. Regular self checks are valuable and don’t take long, Alexa and Google Assistant can supply apps to talk you through the process.
Neither do you need to feel alone, especially if you find an unusual change. A consultant dermatologist can assist using teledermatology (a video link) and when helpful, arrange to see you in a Covid secure environment.
The strain on healthcare systems has not removed specialist, dermatological care. Clinics remain open to assist, a recognition that over time, more people could suffer from conditions other than Covid.
One researcher concluded that “Whilst this awful pandemic may last a couple of years, other health repercussions could be infinite.” As with all medical staff, he wants to see each of us supported as much as possible.
Sticking to sun protection habits will help to prevent future skin cancers, above all, prompt detection and treatment are the solution for current cases.
Melanoma is a disease which responds remarkably well to early intervention, with an almost 100% cure rate at stage one. As time goes on, that percentage dips at increasing speed, at best more intrusive treatment is needed.
By all means see more on skin cancer treatment, which along with diagnostic approaches, has progressed a great deal in recent years. We would still encourage you to avoid this where you can.
Find 10 minutes each month to thoroughly check your skin and seek support if anything is found. Your safety and reducing a need for treatment are the priorities.