App finds skin can­cers at Fiel­d­ays

The Southland Times - - WEATHER - RU­RAL RE­PORTERS

A Kiwi-made mo­bile app helped catch 10 cases of skin cancer among farm­ers at Fiel­d­ays.

Co-founded by New Ply­mouth en­trepreneurs Hay­den Laird and Frank Lach­mann, the Firstcheck app pro­vides re­mote con­sul­ta­tions with skin cancer spe­cial­ists and was show­cased at last month’s event.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple took the op­por­tu­nity to have sus­pi­cious moles and le­sions checked and 10 cases of skin cancer were picked up - two melanomas, three squa­mous cell car­ci­no­mas and five basal cell car­ci­no­mas.

All of those di­ag­nosed were farm­ers.

The app’s con­ve­nience ap­pealed to many Fiel­d­ays vis­i­tors who had put off get­ting a skin check, Laird said. ’’The num­ber of times I heard some­one say ‘I’ve been mean­ing to get this checked for a while’,’’ he said.

‘‘And luck­ily they fi­nally did, as we picked up 10 skin can­cers at Fiel­d­ays alone. For me it just re­in­forces how crit­i­cal it is to make it easy for ev­ery­one to get checked, as and when they no­tice some­thing.’’

New Zealand has the high­est rate of skin cancer in the world and the out­door na­ture of their work put farm­ers and agri­cul­tural work­ers at high risk.

How­ever, a re­cent in­de­pen­dent sur­vey found fewer than 4 per cent of Ki­wis were get­ting an an­nual skin check. Statis­tics from Me­lanoma New Zealand showed two out of ev­ery three New Zealan­ders will be di­ag­nosed with some form of skin cancer in their life­time and Sun­smart re­search found about 69,000 Ki­wis are di­ag­nosed ev­ery year.

Even though skin can­cers and melanomas could usu­ally be treated suc­cess­fully if caught early enough, Ki­wis were putting them­selves at se­ri­ous risk with such a low per­cent­age of skin checks, said Me­lanoma New Zealand’s CEO Linda Flay.

‘‘An­nual full body skin checks are rec­om­mended but any­time some­one no­tices a new or chang­ing mole, they should get it checked as soon as pos­si­ble,’’ she said.

Firstcheck is the first app to pro­vide re­mote con­sul­ta­tions with lo­cal skin spe­cial­ists, (in med­i­cal terms, ‘‘tele­d­er­ma­tol­ogy’’), mak­ing it eas­ier for ev­ery­one, par­tic­u­larly those in ru­ral ar­eas, to get sus­pi­cious skin le­sions checked.

The app is free to down­load and skin spe­cial­ists charge $19.95 for a con­sul­ta­tion, although that fee was waived at Fiel­d­ays. The av­er­age turn­around is 24 hours, with guar­an­teed re­sponse within 72 hours.

Firstcheck played a key role in the early de­tec­tion and sur­vival rates of skin cancer by fa­cil­i­tat­ing quick and con­ve­nient con­sul­ta­tions without hav­ing to go into a clinic, Laird said.

Since its launch in New Zealand in late 2016, and in Aus­tralia in early 2017, the app has been down­loaded tens of thou­sands of times. ‘‘It’s been great to see so many New Zealan­ders and Aus­tralians em­brace Firstcheck as a tool to mon­i­tor their skin health – and en­gage with lo­cal skin spe­cial­ists,’’ Laird said.

Firstcheck is a new app de­signed to de­tect skin can­cers.

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