App finds skin cancers at Fieldays
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 risk with such a low percentage of skin checks, said Melanoma New Zealand’s chief executive 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, 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.
Since its launch in New Zealand last year, and in Australia this year, the app has been downloaded tens of thousands of times.