Are you keeping up with your essential skin health appointments during COVID-19?
There has been a significant reduction in the number of melanoma treatments performed in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting a timely reminder about the importance of essential regular skin cancer checks even during the pandemic.
New data from Cancer Australia looked at the impact of COVID-19 on cancer-related medical services and procedures in Australia in 2020.
The analysis found that the number of surgical treatments for melanoma was 14 per cent lower than expected.
There were 68,131 melanoma surgeries performed in Australia in 2020 – 11,245 fewer procedures than predicted. This figure was 17 per cent lower than expected for Queensland, 16 per cent lower for Western Australia, 15 per cent lower for South Australia and Northern Territory, 13 per cent lower for New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory, and 11 per cent lower for Victoria and Tasmania.
Annual observed and expected number of services for melanoma of the skin related therapeutic procedures in 2020, by jurisdiction.
What does it mean?
A drop in melanoma treatments means that less people sought treatment for their malignant skin cancers. Unfortunately, skin cancer doesn’t wait, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular skin cancer checks are still essential and available to all Australians before, during and after lockdowns.
Waiting for the uncertainty and lockdowns to pass before seeing your doctor for a skin cancer check could be a potentially deadly decision. Skin cancers such as melanoma can grow very fast and sometimes show no symptoms until an advanced stage, which is why early detection is crucial.
In fact, 99 per cent of skin cancers are curable if detected and treated early.
Source: Cancer Australia, 2021. The impact of COVID-19 on cancer-related medical services and procedures in Australia in 2020: Examination of MBS claims data for 2020, nationally and by jurisdiction, Cancer Australia, Surry Hills, NSW.