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Skin Check campaign responds to the 3,709 melanomas missed during the COVID-19 pandemic

Melanoma Canada, a leading melanoma patient advocacy group, today launches a major public awareness campaign to highlight the scale of unidentified melanoma during the pandemic, and therefore promote the habit of conducting monthly skin self-examinations.

A global survey of over 700 dermatologists, conducted during the first year of the Covid pandemic, suggested a third (33.6%) of professional skin exams were missed due to lockdowns. As a result, dermatologists estimate that a fifth (21%) of early-stage melanoma may have gone undiagnosed compared with normal years. When these numbers are compared with recognised incidence rates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 130,375 melanoma have been missed globally, and 3,709 in Canada.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, national lockdowns, and pressure on healthcare systems cancers, including potentially deadly melanoma, have gone undiagnosed and untreated.  It is now more important than ever for Canadians to check their skin regularly and report concerns to their health care team,” said Falyn Katz, Executive Director, Melanoma Canada

“While we want people to be clear about the dangers of melanoma, we want our Skin Check campaign to be positive.  For most people, the lifting of restrictions comes with renewed hope for what our futures hold.  Our campaign encourages people to protect ‘future you’, and preserve life’s special moments, by performing a skin check each month.”

Some useful Skin Check tools have been created as part of the campaign:

  1. A voice-activated digital assistant ‘Skin Check’ app – Available (in English, Spanish and Italian) 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 saying “Alexa, enable Skin Check” to your Alexa device, then simply “Alexa, open Skin Check”.  To use the Google App, just say “Hey Google, talk to Skin Check”.
  2. A skin self-exam video – Similar in scope to the app, the video covers the ABCD&E 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

“Melanoma is one of the few cancers we can see for ourselves.  That means it’s in our power to catch it early – and if we do that, we stand a better chance of beating it.  So, as we emerge from the Covid pandemic and consider what our ‘new normal’ looks like, let’s all make sure it includes a 10-minute monthly skin check,” added Mary Zawadzki, Manager, Melanoma Canada Community Programs and Resources Certified Professional Cancer Coach

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