New research to spark a change in skin checks

New research from Cancer Council Queensland has the power to change the way skin checks are conducted across the state, particularly for melanoma survivors.

Previous studies show melanoma survivors have a six to seven times higher risk of being diagnosed with a subsequent invasive melanoma when compared to the general population.

But new research* from Cancer Council Queensland and the University of Queensland has found the risk is greatest on the same part of the body as the original melanoma.

Importantly, the findings also show that the chance of being diagnosed with a subsequent invasive melanoma remains high irrespective of whether the first melanoma was invasive or not.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said current clinical guidelines recognised the importance of same-site monitoring for invasive melanoma patients.

“Clinical practice guidelines are in place to follow-up and monitor patients diagnosed with invasive melanoma, particularly around the same body site as the original,” Ms Clift said.

“Our research highlights the need for similar monitoring for those diagnosed with in situ melanoma – the earliest stage of the cancer, before it has spread.

“Particular attention needs to be paid to the body site of the initial lesion.

“The risk of being diagnosed with invasive melanoma is high, regardless of whether a melanoma survivor’s first diagnosis was invasive or not.

“This research proposes new recommendations for clinical follow-up of in situ melanomas – we need to be vigilant with screening to ensure early detection and to save lives.

“The study shows melanoma survivors have the highest risk of being diagnosed with subsequent primary invasive melanomas on the same part of the body – particularly the head.

“Women diagnosed with a primary invasive melanoma on the head were 13 times more likely to be diagnosed with a subsequent invasive melanoma at the same site, when compared to other women.

“The results also indicate the need for patients with non-invasive and early stage melanoma to be followed-up more closely.”

Cancer Council Queensland believes the findings have important implications for both public health and clinical practice.

The study examined records of all melanoma cases in Queensland from 1982-2005, following up patients to the end of 2010.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171

*The distribution of subsequent primary invasive melanomas following a first primary invasive or in situ melanoma in Queensland, Australia, 1982-2010, Youlden et al 2013.