Skin checking company MoleMap has today launched a new app enabling remote consultations - and says government funding for checks could help reduce the almost 400 deaths per year from melanoma in New Zealand.
MoleMap is New Zealand's biggest dermatological skin lesion checking service, and over the lockdown period they set up new ways to undertake patient consultations, including through video conferencing.
According to the company, only about 20 per cent of all melanomas are detected through skin checks.
It said that international research has indicated that skin cancer mortality could be reduced by more than 40 per cent when a nationwide checking programme is implemented.
About $800m per year is spent on skin cancer treatment, MoleMap said.
Associate Professor of Medicine and dermatologist Amanda Oakley said melanoma can progress very quickly and that it's important to catch it early - before the cancer cells enter the bloodstream.
Molemap chair Jodi Mitchell said the company's new app - My Molemap - is an easy way for people to get their skin or any suspicious lesions checked by a dermatologist.
"MoleMap, which is a skin cancer diagnostic service, was initially not considered an essential service under lockdown," Ms Mitchell said.
"We know that a large proportion of melanomas are initially identified by patients themselves and we are now able to use technology to help them have more direction over their care and treatment.
"For patients who have a melanoma a delay in diagnosis can make a difference in treatment outcomes.
"Patients who are concerned about a lesion will soon be able to enter a portal which contains their records and initiate a video call with a specialist melanographer who can help them determine the next steps for treatment or immediately help relieve some of the anxiety they may be experiencing.
"Despite being one of New Zealand's most common forms of cancer we don't have funded surveillance programmes in place to help stop the spread of this preventable disease.
"Covid-19 has provided us real time opportunity to move towards a more patient centric treatment option which offers us a pathway to build a range of new services in the fight against skin cancer."