- Campaign encourages people to share a ‘Finder’s Guide’ with six others to spread potentially life-saving information like ‘a virus for good’
- Global survey of dermatologists estimates 21% of early-stage melanoma undiagnosed due to 33% of professional skin-check appointments missed during COVID lockdowns
- Innovative Alexa & Google voice apps plus instructional video launched to encourage self-examinations
04 May, 2021 – Melanoma Network of Canada, the leading national organization dedicated to the fight against melanoma and skin cancers , launches a major public awareness campaign to find the nation’s 1,999 melanomas undiagnosed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campaign responds to the findings of a global survey of over 700 dermatologists. The study showed that, compared to a normal year of performing patient skin examinations, an estimated one third (33.6%) of appointments were missed – with a fifth (21%) of early-stage melanomas therefore going undiagnosed.
“The human impact of Coronavirus goes beyond the damage caused by the virus itself. Provincial lockdowns and pressure on healthcare systems means cancers like potentially deadly melanoma have gone undetected and untreated. With our National Melanoma Hunt, we’re fighting back and declaring ‘open season on melanoma,” said Falyn Katz, Executive Director – Melanoma Network of Canada
At the centre of the campaign is a downloadable ‘Finder’s Guide’ https://bit.ly/3ePNlMG which explains the warning signs of melanoma skin cancer and sets out a 7-step process for conducting a full-body skin exam.
“This campaign can be a virus for good. We want people to share our ‘Finder’s Guide’ with at least six others they care about. We all know someone that spends too much time sunbathing, or who uses tanning beds. Maybe a friend is a keen gardener, or loves doing outdoor activities. It might be someone who works outside for a living – a construction or postal worker. Send the guide to them, and ask each of them to do the same with six others,” added Mary Zawadzki, Certified Patient Care Specialist – Melanoma Network of Canada
Follow the campaign on our socials
Some useful Skin Check tools:
- A voice-activated digital assistant ‘Skin Check’ app – Available (currently in English language only) on Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant platform, the app guides people through what to look for, and the seven steps for conducting a full-body skin exam. The assistant finishes by offering to set a recurring monthly reminder for the exam. To use the Alexa app, it should first be enabled by going to https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GLPWPX5/, then simply say “Alexa, open Skin Check”. To use the Google App, just say “Hey Google, talk to Skin Check”.
- A skin self-exam video – Similar in scope to the app, the video covers the ABCDE warning signs of melanoma and the seven steps for checking the body. Pauses between the seven steps have been included in the film so that the viewer can simply take their phone or tablet into a bathroom, hit play, and follow the instructions in real-time. The video is available at https://youtu.be/h_MBi70w26c
“We want people to remember that the chances of beating melanoma significantly increase if it is detected and treated early. So, there’s never been a better time to introduce a monthly skin self-exam into your routine. Make it part of your new normal – it could be a 10-minute habit that saves your life,” adds Falyn Katz, Executive Director, Melanoma Network of Canada.
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About the survey
The short survey was conducted in November and December 2020, receiving a total of 734 responses from professional dermatologists across 36 countries. Dermatologists were asked to estimate the proportion of skin check appointments missed due to the pandemic (33%), and estimate the proportion of undiagnosed melanomas (21%) compared to a normal year. These figures were then compared with official World Health Organisation data for melanoma incidence rates to derive an estimated number of undiagnosed melanoma during the COVID pandemic (March 2020 to April 2021 inclusive).
ABOUT Melanoma Network of Canada
The Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC) Melanoma Network of Canada is a national, patient-led organization whose mission is to save and improve the lives of melanoma and skin cancer patients and their caregivers by providing current and accurate resources and support services.
The network was founded to respond to the need for patients in Canada to have a nationally based organization coordinate educational and prevention efforts, provide a strong voice for advocacy, and assist in efforts to target funding for melanoma research.