AUSTRALIA’S ‘SOLID GOLD’ skin has been a long-standing favourite with Australians.
But now it’s being put on the back burner, with the Government putting a halt to the growth of new skin cancers as a result of an aggressive and controversial new skin-care strategy.
But in a move that may be a game-changer for Australians, the Australian Medical Association says it would like to see an end to the use of ‘safe’ sunscreen and has called for a ban on the use and production of ‘skin cancer-causing’ products.
“The medical profession should not have to face the health consequences of its decisions about the use or production of skin-protecting products,” AMA chief executive Michael Gannon said.
“Australians deserve better.”
A ‘healthy’ way to look at skinThe AMA has launched a campaign to promote the idea that people need to stop worrying about their skin and get a little more ‘healthy’.
The AMA says the new skin cancer-preventing products will be marketed in a ‘healthy way’ to minimise any potential side effects and help patients to avoid skin-related illnesses.
“Our message is to promote a more ‘natural’ and ‘healthy looking’ way of looking at our skin, and we believe that the new products will reduce the risk of skin cancers,” AMA spokeswoman Jenny Jones said.
Ms Jones said the AMA was also calling for a moratorium on the production of non-skin-protectant cosmetics and other products that can cause skin damage and inflammation.
“Skin cancer-related products are often used by doctors and health professionals to treat their patients with a topical or systemic anti-inflammatory or anti-microbial treatment,” she said.
“They are often marketed to the public as safe, natural, and non-hazardous.”
Dr Michael Gatton, from the University of Queensland, is leading a team that is working with the AMA to develop a new skin test that will detect skin cancer.
He said the test could help doctors identify early signs of skin damage.
“It will tell us the most likely place for the disease to appear in the body,” Dr Gatton said.
The new test will be used in a trial for melanoma patients, as well as for those with other skin cancers.
“We are currently working with a group of melanoma doctors in the Queensland city of Melbourne and will be testing the new test in people with melanoma,” Dr Gillian Anderson, an associate professor at the University’s Department of Medicine, said.
She said skin-cancer testing could help detect the spread in patients with skin cancers in the future.
“People who have been exposed to a high risk area for melanomas are likely to have a higher chance of developing melanoma, and as such we will need to look for new ways of detecting melanoma in future patients,” Dr Anderson said.
Dr Gatton is hoping to have the new testing ready by the end of the year.
“This is a really exciting time for the research and development of melanomas and the hope is that this will be a way to monitor melanoma incidence and to help doctors to spot early signs,” he said.
Melanoma is a very common skin cancer that can affect anywhere from one in every 10 Australians to one in 20,000 people in Australia.
It is a progressive, degenerative skin disease that can spread from the skin to other parts of the body, and can spread to nearby organs and organs such as the lungs, kidneys, heart and brain.
Dr Anderson said it would be an extremely difficult condition to detect early.
“What we’re hoping is that by using the new technology, we’ll be able to identify early melanoma and then be able treat the patient,” she he said “This would allow us to identify melanoma before it can metastasise and ultimately lead to death.”
“This would help us stop the spreading of melanosarcoma to other areas of the brain, the heart, the lungs and the heart valves.”
The AMA’s new skin testing system is designed to detect melanoma cells in the bloodstream and could be used by anyone, regardless of skin colour.
The system is based on a technology called a ‘cell-specific’ cell-based detection system that allows a person to identify any melanoma-containing cells in their bloodstream.
The skin test has already been used in several trials and is expected to be commercially available in the coming months.
“Melanomas are very dangerous because they can cause severe damage and even death, and it’s really important that we make sure that we’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re not over-diagnosing,” Dr Michael Gatter, a professor of dermatology at the Mayo Clinic, said of the new tests.
“There’s a huge opportunity to do something