The Press

Mole checks shouldn’t wait – doc­tor

- Health · Cancer · Medicine · Health Conditions · St Albans · Skin Cancer · Springfield

Ev­ery year, about 82,000 Ki­wis are di­ag­nosed with skin can­cer. They ac­count for 80 per cent of the coun­try’s new can­cer cases and in­clude six peo­ple ev­ery day di­ag­nosed with melanoma, the ma­jor­ity of whom are aged over 50.

De­spite this, mole checks to pro­vide early di­ag­no­sis and save lives re­main rel­a­tively un­com­mon. Peo­ple visit the den­tist for an an­nual checkup, but few do the same for their skin.

Skin can­cer doc­tor Michael Mor­ri­son would like to see that change.

About 18 months ago, Mor­ri­son opened the Mole Screen clinic in St Al­bans to make the vi­tal check-ups more ac­ces­si­ble.

Prices are lower than at many places and pa­tients are as­sured of see­ing an ac­cred­ited skin can­cer doc­tor – that’s not the case at some mole-map­ping clin­ics, which send away images to be an­a­lysed re­motely.

Mor­ri­son says the good news is that skin can­cers de­tected early enough are highly cur­able. But if left un­treated, the can­cer can spread quickly to other parts of the body.

‘‘This makes it very im­por­tant to have your skin checked reg­u­larly, par­tic­u­larly if you are at high risk or have pre­vi­ously had skin can­cer,’’ he says.

Most New Zealan­ders fall into the medium to very high risk cat­e­gories, es­pe­cially older Ki­wis who grew up when fewer pre­cau­tions were taken against the sun.

Peo­ple with a lot of moles – over about 100 – are also con­sid­ered higher risk.

For all peo­ple, though, any mole that ap­pears af­ter age 40 should be treated with sus­pi­cion, Mor­ri­son says.

How of­ten peo­ple should get a pro­fes­sional check de­pends on the in­di­vid­ual. It could range from ev­ery six months for the most at-risk cases to once ev­ery few years.

How­ever, Mor­ri­son says any­one mid­dle-aged or older who has never had a full-body mole ex­am­i­na­tion should have a se­ri­ous think about mak­ing an ap­point­ment.

Mole Screen of­fers two screen­ing ser­vices: a 30-minute full body ex­am­i­na­tion; and a full ex­am­i­na­tion ac­com­pa­nied by whole-body imag­ing, which takes about an hour and pro­vides a pho­to­graphic record

of moles for com­par­i­son later us­ing the award-win­ning AI soft­ware Der­mEngine.

‘‘One of the ad­van­tages of the photo soft­ware is it be­comes much eas­ier to spot changes or new moles very early on, which is ex­tremely im­por­tant,’’ he says.

The 30-minute ex­am­i­na­tion costs $180, or $90 for chil­dren, while photo-map­ping brings the cost to $250.

Peo­ple can ac­cess their images for free through an app to make per­sonal com­par­isons any time they want.

Mor­ri­son, who has also been a GP for 20 years, says he tries to steer peo­ple away from par­tial in­spec­tions where pa­tients show their doc­tor only one or two moles they’re cu­ri­ous about.

‘‘You might be point­ing out harm­less moles and com­pletely miss­ing the small sin­is­ter one on your foot,’’ he says.

Mole Screen, 250 Spring­field Rd, St Al­bans. To make an ap­point­ment or find out more, phone 03 355 9119 dur­ing busi­ness hours, or visit mo­le­screen.co.nz. Sup­port peo­ple are wel­come at ap­point­ments.

 ??  ?? Skin can­cer doc­tor Michael Mor­ri­son, of Mole Screen, says reg­u­lar full-body checks are highly ad­vised for older New Zealan­ders.
Skin can­cer doc­tor Michael Mor­ri­son, of Mole Screen, says reg­u­lar full-body checks are highly ad­vised for older New Zealan­ders.

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