Australians Turn To Selfies As Self-Check Cancer Message Sinks In
A quarter of Australians are using selfies to digitally monitor changes to their skin, taking an estimated 100 million potentially life-saving snapshots a year, new research has revealed.
Almost one in four (24%) have taken photographs of their skin to keep track of moles, with nearly a third of 25-34 year olds (31%) now taking them at least once a month.
The independent research was commissioned by skin checking app Miiskin, ahead of the launch of a campaign that will raise funds for cancer research in Australia - with $1 for each free download of the app going to charity during February.
Following one of the country's hottest years in history, the survey of 1,003 adults also found that 45 per cent were worried about the risk of skin cancer because of the weather. Although just one in three (34%) say they always use sun cream when exposed to the sun.
Surprisingly, despite the ban on commercial sunbeds, one in seven under 35s (15%) believed it would be safer to use a tanning bed than to get a tan from the sun. One in nine under 45s (11%) admit they would rather have a month without alcohol than a month without tanning their skin.
However, with one of the world's highest rates of skin cancer, 75% already knew it was important to check for new moles, despite one in eight (13%) thinking they only needed to monitor their skin for changes if a medical professional had advised them to.
The Miiskin app, which is free to download and created to help people track how skin and moles look, has already received 100,000 downloads globally, including 12,000 in Australia.
Jon Friis, founder and CEO of Miiskin, said: "Awareness of the importance of skin monitoring is increasing, with many people now documenting changes to their skin's appearance. While technology should never replace advice from a medical professional, it can help people spot significant changes occurring on their own skin. Early detection is important for successful treatment."
Skin cancer outnumbers all other forms of cancer in Australia. Over 750,000 people a year are treated for non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia, with more than 13,000 melanoma cases. In 2015, 2,162 people died from skin cancer in Australia.
Skin cancer is mainly caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common, with melanoma being one of the most dangerous forms.
Professor Gregor Jemec, chairman of the Department of Dermatology, Roskilde Hospital, University of Copenhagen, said: "Very often, the best person to notice any changes in your skin is you. With high rates of malignant melanoma cases, everything that can help make people attentive to new moles or marks, and changes in old moles is therefore very welcome."
Information about where to download the app for free and generate a $1 donation to cancer research in Australia is available here: www.eyesonyourskin.com
Interview with Jon Friis, Founder and CEO of Miiskin
Question: How are Australians using selfies to monitor changes to their skin?
Jon Friis: The independent research asked people how often, if at all, they take photos of their skin to keep track of moles (e.g. their size, colour etc.). It revealed that almost one in four (24%) have taken photographs of their skin to keep track of moles, with nearly a third of 25-34 year olds in Australia (31%) now taking them at least once a month.
In can be difficult to keep track of changes to your skin – particularly if you have a lot of moles on your body. Keeping a digital record using photos can help people spot significant changes in their own skin.
Question: How can the rest of Australia begin this type of skin-monitoring?
Jon Friis: Anyone with a smartphone can easily take photos of their skin to monitor for changes. The Miiskin app has been developed to make it easy to compare changes to the skin over time, by allowing you to log where on the body the picture was taken, store your -selfie' and alert you when another picture should be taken.
It's important to check your whole body, not just your face or areas that are easy to see, including your back and back of the legs. You can watch a video about how to do that here: YouTube
Question: How often should we be taking photos of our moles and skin markings?
Jon Friis: The Melanoma Institute Australia suggests taking photographs every few months and comparing them, so you can spot any changes and react quickly if you do see something growing or changing.
Question: What types of changes should we be looking for in these photos?
Jon Friis: There can be many different things to keep an eye out for - the ABCDE checker can be a useful guide, which stands for Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter, Evolving (more information here http://miiskin.com/abcde/)
Question: Can you tell us about Miiskin? What inspired you to create Miiskin?
Jon Friis: Miiskin helps you keep a regular eye on your skin, so you can seek medical help if you spot concerning changes.
I first came up with the idea for Miiskin to help my wife Rikke keep track of moles on her skin and check for signs of Melanoma. She has lots of moles and her doctor had suggested we use pen and paper to keep a record of them, but I couldn't help thinking that technology could simplify this and make things easier.
So we created the Miiskin app – which is free to download and has now received 100,000 downloads around the world, including 12,000 in Australia.
Question: Can you tell us about Miiskin's most recent charity campaign?
Jon Friis: We've launched a charity campaign that will run throughout February to raise funds for cancer research in Australia. Downloads of the Miiskin app, which are free, will generate $1 for cancer research in Australia (for up to 10,000 new downloads). Visit www.eyesonyourskin.com for details.
Question: How can we download the Miiskin app?
Jon Friis: You can download the Miiskin app from the App Store and Google Play – links to these and more details about the charity campaign here: www.eyesonyourskin.com
Interview by Brooke Hunter