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'SolarScan' for earlier skin cancer detection

A new Australian device stands to save thousands of lives by helping GPs diagnose melanoma.

Minister for Science, Peter McGauran launched SolarScan at Bondi Beach on Tuesday.

Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in men and women aged 15-44 years. It is the most deadly form of skin cancer, killing around a thousand Australians a year.

If detected early, the cure rate for melanoma is almost 100 per cent. Late detection, when the melanoma is more than three millimetres deep, results in only a 59 per cent survival rate.

"Lifesavers are always looking for warning signs that indicate dangerous surf," Mr McGauran said.

"SolarScan will help to save lives by detecting skin cancer warning signs early enough for medical treatment.

"SolarScan will also save money by reducing the number of unnecessary surgical procedures. Almost 750,000 skin cancer removal operations are completed each year, costing Australian taxpayers more than $300 million.

"SolarScan will ensure more accurate melanoma diagnosis so that fewer people have to undergo an unnecessary operation."

The device was developed over eight years by Australian company Polartechnics, CSIRO and the Sydney Melanoma Unit, University of Sydney at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Prototypes have recently been installed in four medical centres in Queensland, adding to the seven that have been in use in other parts of Australia, the US and Europe for several years.

"Medical device exports bring in over $500 million a year to Australia. With the increasing incidence of melanoma in all continents, SolarScan also has enormous export potential," says Polartechnics MD Victor Skladnev.

"We hope to see SolarScan playing an important role in the early detection of skin cancer in this country and around the world".

"The key to saving lives is early detection" says Dr Scott Menzies, Senior Lecturer in Melanoma and Skin Oncology of the Univ
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Contact: Rosie Schmedding
Rosie.Schmedding@csiro.au
61-6276-6520
CSIRO Australia
9-May-2002


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