Cancer screening success

31st January 2017

A life-saving skin cancer screening system launched with funds from York Against Cancer spotted a local patient’s melanoma just days after the service began.

The patient, who was persuaded to see the GP by a relative who thought that a long-standing mole had changed, became one of the first people to be screened using a dermatoscope bought by us.

Dermatoscopes are an essential tool for dermatologists, general practitioners and other health professionals attempting early diagnosis of melanoma.

The patient’s GP said: “She was not convinced [the mole had changed] and was a bit ambivalent about the need to be referred. However, a picture taken by the dermatoscope was forwarded to hospital specialists for checks and they suspected cancer.

"She was promptly seen, diagnosed and treated for her early melanoma and her prognosis is excellent. The dermatologist apparently told her the quality of the image was so good that he plans to keep it and use it for teaching purposes.”

We've invested just under £26,000 in the dermatoscopes, buying 37 instruments for local GP practices. The service was established in November last year and within days the patient’s case had come to light.

Dr Dan Cottingham, GP MacMillan Cancer Lead for NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The use of this technology, allowing specialised photographs to be sent electronically to the local dermatologists, has enabled the swift diagnosis of a worrying skin problem.

“This allows rapid reassurance for a patient to be offered along with a specialist guided treatment plan within 48 hours, without needing to wait to attend the hospital. This helps free up much-needed resources to focus on those needing hospital care.

“This patient story is a great illustration of the value of dermatoscopes to the NHS in the local area and already waiting times for suspected skin cancer referrals have improved, due to this initiative supported by York Against Cancer.”

Our Chairman Professor Steve Leveson said: “It is really great that York Against Cancer can be involved in such a useful project based in primary care. Skin cancers are the most common cancer in this country.

“I am sure that the use of dermatoscopes will save many unnecessary referrals and will speed up access in the appropriate cases. It will produce a significant cost saving to the NHS.”