UQ-led project to test technology-driven solutions for rural skin cancer screening

A University of Queensland-led project will test a combination of technologies to improve the early detection of potentially fatal skin cancers in patients in regional and rural Australia.

Professor Monika Janda from UQ's Centre for Health Services Research said the aim is to inform work towards a national, targeted melanoma screening program for Australia.

Rates of skin cancer are higher in regional areas, however fewer than 10 per cent of dermatologists practice outside capital cities.

We want to ensure equitable access to skin imaging services for regional Australians and reduce the time between detection and treatment, ultimately saving lives."

Professor Monika Janda from UQ's Centre for Health Services Research

The project has secured $3 million in funding from the Medical Research Future Fund.

"Our study will look at how 3D total body photography, combined with artificial intelligence to support clinicians, can help improve and speed up skin cancer imaging," Professor Janda said.

"Along with technology, the project will include upskilling regional staff."

The research will be conducted at 9 regional hospital and health care centres across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, including a 3D total body imaging trial hub established in partnership with Mildura Base Public Hospital.

"All 9 regional hubs will use new technologies to test AI in healthcare and minimally invasive biopsy methods," Professor Janda said.

"Conversations with consumers in regional communities have been pivotal in shaping the project's focus.

"Geographical isolation and limited access to healthcare facilities exacerbate the challenges of living in regional Australia.

"Delivering services in rural areas is complex, but technology can help us to tackle the obstacles of distance and a shortage of medical specialists."

Professor Janda said the project will improve research and clinical trial opportunities for patients in regional areas.

The project is an initiative of the ACRF Australian Centre of Excellence in Melanoma Imaging and Diagnosis, comprising researchers from UQ, Monash University and University of Sydney.

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