Australia is one of the skin cancer capitals of the world, but the current cost of tests that can detect early signs of the cancer put many people off seeing a doctor.
Now, some of the nation’s most senior dermatologists are calling for the government to cut costs when it comes to checking if Aussies are at risk of the deadly melanoma.
One of the most effective ways of detecting the risk of a mole is with mole-mapping technology, but it doesn’t come cheap.
According to the ABC, the current cost of getting a mole checked with the expensive technology can cost anywhere between $250 and $450. As it currently stands, Medicare does not offer a rebate on this kind of testing, meaning those at risk of cancer are left out of pocket or simply avoiding seeing a health professional altogether.
What this means is people at high-risk, who need photos of their moles updated every year to ensure they haven’t become cancerous, are simply putting it off.
Exports are now calling for the Government to make the photographs a priority, noting that they save money in the long term as patients don’t require invasive surgery, costly cancer treatments and additional care.
The director of the Victorian Melanoma Service at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital, Professor John Kelly, suggested that the assisted finance was important if the country was serious about beating melanoma.
“I think this should be a priority. Melanoma is our cancer unfortunately. We have the highest rates in the world,” he said to the ABC.
“We should be leading the way internationally in protecting our population from this life-threatening cancer.”
The photographs are important as they help doctors record the size, shape and position of every mole and take further action if there are any worrying changes.
It should also be noted that unlike other cancer killers including breast and cervical, there is not a current screening program for skin cancer in the country.
Townsville dermatologist Associate Professor Robert Miller added that it was important for doctors to push for a Medicare rebate.
“I’ve done it because I feel very strongly that this technology will lead us to earlier diagnosis of melanoma and that in turn will lead to fewer people dying from this terrible disease,” he told ABC.
“We also believe it saves money because it costs something like 1,000 times the amount of money to treat someone who’s had melanoma spread through their body than it costs to treat a very early melanoma simply by just cutting it out.”