It is estimated that the risk of an individual dying from melanoma by their 85th birthday has reached 1 in 118 people. The risk is greater in men, with 1 in 76 males likely to die of melanoma by the age of 85, compared with women, where the risk is 1 in 227.
This is huge. Melanoma is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australia, yet it is primarily preventable if found in the early stages.
Survival rates remain low for skin cancer diagnosed at an advanced stage however, meaning there is a key role for GPs in earlier diagnosis and treatment of melanoma and in the delivery of prevention messages.
General practitioners are at the front line of skin cancer detection for most Australians. They have the knowledge and skills needed to perform skin checks and minor procedures, discuss skin cancer risk and provide advice.
Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs) for cancer are national guidelines that outline the best possible cancer care for specific tumour types. They map the patient journey, aiming to foster an understanding of the whole pathway and its distinct components to promote quality cancer care and patient experiences. The resources identify specific steps, or critical points along the care pathway and the recommended care at each point.
This year, Primary Health Networks in Victoria will focus on building awareness of the melanoma OCP, developing and promoting education opportunities for GPs to build their skills in skin cancer diagnosis and hear about new treatments and promoting the new suite of melanoma HealthPathways for use at the point of care.