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a smartphone screen looking at a skin mole

MELSELF project

Can smartphone technologies help patients to detect melanoma early?
Our multidisciplinary team is investigating how smartphone technologies can support melanoma patients to do skin self-checks, and photograph skin lesions for dermatology review, so that melanomas are detected earlier.

About the study

The MELSELF study aims to investigate whether self-skin checks and teledermatology, may lead to earlier diagnosis of melanomas and other skin cancers.

Many melanomas are found by patients or their family members between doctor’s visits and even more might be detected if patients and their partners were trained in the best way to do total body skin self-examination, with fast access to a dermatologist’s opinion on anything found.

We will study the use of teledermatology.  This involves a device attached to a smartphone to take close up photographs of the skin, sending them to a dermatologist through an app, and receiving the dermatologist report through the app. We aim to find out whether teledermatology may lead to earlier diagnosis of melanomas and other skin cancers.

The MELSELF project is a NHMRC funded randomized controlled trial that is sponsored by the University of Sydney.  We aim to recruit 600 people, who have been previously treated for a localised melanoma from participating melanoma treatment centres in Sydney and Newcastle.  Recruitment will open shortly. Participants are randomly assigned to one of the two study groups, a ‘smartphone supported self-skin checks’ group or a ‘usual clinician care’ group.

  • ‘Smartphone supported self-skin checks’ group:  in this group, patients receive a special imaging device to add to their smartphone, and with the use of a special app, examine their skin lesions regularly and submit images for teledermatology review.  They continue to visit their usual melanoma doctor(s) for routinely scheduled visits.
  • ‘Usual clinician care’ group: in this group, patients continue to visit their usual melanoma doctor(s) for routinely scheduled visits.

During the study, all participants will complete questionnaires and receive educational booklets.

showing the process of a smartphone shceking for melanoma

Further information

Australia has over 17,500 new melanoma diagnoses every year and this number continues to rise.  People diagnosed with a melanoma are at risk of developing a recurrent or new primary melanoma, and are recommended to visit their doctor at regular intervals every 3 to 12 months for skin checks.  New smartphone technologies may improve on this by allowing patients to detect new melanoma themselves, and get it treated earlier than if they’d waited for their regular skin check by their doctor.

The MELSELF study aims to find out if smartphone support for patient self-skin checks, together with teledermatology:

  • detects new primary or recurrent melanoma earlier,
  • increases people’s knowledge and confidence with self-skin checks,
  • could replace some routine follow-up clinic visits for patients who prefer this
  • improves mental and emotional wellbeing.

This study is funded through a 4-year National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project grant and has undergone scientific peer review as part of the NHMRC funding process. 

The study has been endorsed by the Australian and New Zealand Melanoma Trials Group (ANZMTG; 04.17), which includes a scientific and consumer review process. This study is also registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry

Our people

Associate Professor Katy Bell, University of Sydney

Principal Investigators:

  • Professor Pascale Guitera, Melanoma Institute Australia and The University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Robyn Saw, Melanoma Institute Australia and The University of Sydney
  • Dr Anthony Azzi, Newcastle Skin Check

Chief and Associate Investigators:

  • Professor Monika Janda, The University of Queensland
  • Professor Anne Cust, The University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Robin Turner, University of Otago
  • Emeritus Professor Les Irwig, The University of Sydney
  • Dr Mbathio Dieng, The University of Sydney
  • Dr Jolyn Hersch, The University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Victoria Mar, Alfred Hospital and Monash University
  • Ms Cynthia Low, Cancer Voices NSW
  • Mr Donald Low, Cancer Voices NSW
  • Professor John Thompson, Melanoma Institute Australia
  • Professor Jon Emery, The University of Melbourne
  • Professor Peter Murchie, University of Aberdeen
  • Professor H. Peter Soyer, The University of Queensland
  • Professor Rachael Morton, The University of Sydney
  • Professor Richard Scolyer, Melanoma Institute Australia, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and The University of Sydney

 

  • Ms Amelia Smit, The University of Sydney
  • Dr Alistair Lilleyman, Newcastle Skin Check
  • Dr Monjura Nisha (Trial Coordinator)
  • Ms Dorothy Drabarek (Research Associate)
  • Dr Dee Ackermann (Associate Lecturer)
  • Mr Jake Williams (Research Assistant)
  • Ms Ellie Medcalf (Research Assistant)

Dr Dee Ackermann

Ms Susan Martinez (Research Administration Officer)

Contact information

Susan Martinez

Research Administration Officer
Address
  • Edward Ford Building (A27)