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Lifesaving Training Helps Doctors Find Skin Cancer Faster

26 November 2019

The Andrews Labor Government is helping more GPs across Victoria detect skin cancer earlier and save lives thanks to the expansion of a SunSmart training program.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos today announced a $1.1 million health workforce training strategy to improve early detection and treatment of skin cancer. This will include a boost to the Dermoscopy for Victorian General Practice Program, which provides dermatoscopes and training to help GPs better manage skin cancer.

A dermatoscope is a specialised skin microscope which allows doctors to look more closely at skin lesions than with the naked eye - improving the early detection of skin cancer.

Since the program launched in 2018, more than 200 GPs have benefitted from the training, the majority from regional and remote practices. The expansion will see a further 60 GPs trained.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia, with two in three Australians diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70. In 2017, almost 3,000 Victorians were diagnosed with melanoma with more than 140,000 treated for non-melanoma skin cancer.

Most skin cancers can be successfully treated if it is found early and this program allows more people to have their skin checked closer to home and faster. Patients will also benefit from fewer unnecessary surgical procedures.

The funding is particularly important for training GPs in regional or rural practices in order to support Victorians who have limited access to dermatologists. In addition, $4 million will also be given to the Cancer Council Victoria to implement a new skin cancer prevention awareness campaign.

With summer coming, it is a timely reminder for Victorians to get to know their skin so they can find changes earlier. If you notice any anything unusual – get it checked straight away.

This training for GPs will help meet the Labor Government’s ambitious Victorian Cancer Plan 2016-20 target of saving 10,000 lives from cancer over a decade.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

Skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer in Australia. It is important we give hardworking GPs the skills and knowledge they need to detect skin cancer as early as possible.”

“It is also important for people to protect themselves in order to prevent skin cancers from occurring, particularly during summer months when UV levels are extreme most days.”

Quotes attributable Head of SunSmart Heather Walker

“Skin cancer is the most common cancer managed by GPs, and they are historically the first port of call for patients seeking advice on skin lesions.”

“We know there’s no better cure for skin cancer than preventing it in the first place. As Victorians gear up for summer, it’s crucial they adequately protect themselves with more than just sunscreen. Sunscreen is the last line of defence after clothing, a hat, shade and sunglasses.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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