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Free skin cancer check-up overwhelms organisers

Date Published: NOV 5, 2017
Publisher: One News Now

Skin cancer group rolls out free public sunscreen dispensers in Christchurch

Date Published: Oct 25 2018
Publisher: Stuff.co.nz

New Zealand has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, yet the cost of sunscreen and skin-checks is a barrier for many people. SkinCan, a Christchurch group dedicated to raising awareness of skin cancer, is trying to change that. The group is installing free sunscreen dispensers at three sites across the city – the Margaret Mahy Family Playground, the Botanic Gardens, and Sumner's Scarborough Park – for a six-month pilot scheme.
Permanent public dispensers are widespread in the United States, but the trial is believed to be a New Zealand first. If it proves successful, SkinCan hopes it can be rolled out elsewhere in the country.
The first dispenser is being installed on Friday at the playground, while the other two are expected to be operational next week. The trial is supported by the Christchurch City Council. On Saturday, SkinCan is holding its second free skin-check clinic at the Canterbury Charity Hospital. A group of dermatologists and GPs did full-body checks for about 160 people last year. This year, the number has grown to 250. Leeann Marriott, a Christchurch real estate agent, is one of the founders of the group. She was inspired to do something after the death of her brother, Andrew Bulman, from melanoma in 2015. "There's lots of people suffering from it and going through it," she said. "We just used his story as a catalyst, but there are lots of people of all ages out there going through skin cancer and melanoma treatment." About 90,000 people will be diagnosed with a skin cancer this year, according to Cancer Society figures. The number of new melanoma cases is expected to grow to 2934 in 2020 when the number of deaths is predicted at 461. Marriott said the sunscreen dispensers were about raising awareness and encouraging people to be sun-smart. The sponsored machines were imported from the US and used a sensor to dispense SPF 30 sunscreen. "This provides something free to the community, and hopefully it stops people getting burned and builds awareness," she said. Consultant dermatologist Dr Victoria Scott-Lang is part of SkinCan and one of nearly 20 medical professionals to give their time at the booked-out free skin-check on Saturday. Seven patients were identified with potential melanoma last year, the first time the clinic was held, and referred to their GPs. One woman wrote in afterwards to thank the group for saving her life, Scott-Lang said. The idea was inspired by nationwide free clinics in the Netherlands. Scott-Lang hoped the model could be extended in New Zealand as the cost of a skin-check or mole map, which could be upwards of $200, was prohibitive for many people. "It's such a massive problem and we have this barrier with cost and access, so it is very disappointing. "We'd love to see some Government interest in this and some real movement to look at how we can better improve early detection, because we know early detection is what saves lives." The dispenser trial is cost-neutral for the council as SkinCan is providing the dispensers and will take responsibility for refilling them. If it goes well, dispensers may be installed in other locations in the city.

Making skin checks accessible

Date Published: OCTOBER 8, 2019
Publisher: Metropol, Celine Gibson

New Zealand currently has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. Some skin cancers can be fatal; early detection and treatment is crucial to achieving the best cure rate.

Leeann Marriott is only too aware of the importance of early detection and the vast difference it can make in outcomes; she lost her brother, Andrew, to melanoma when he was 48 years old.
Though the primary source of his melanoma was unfortunately never found, Leeann recalls as children on summer holidays in Nelson; the family would head to Rabbit Island, where they would baste themselves in baby oil or Coppertone and let the sun bake their bodies.
Decades later, in February 2015, Andrew returned home early from a holiday because his wife was concerned about him; his normal brain function seemed to be impaired. Just 26 weeks later, after exhaustive scans, a biopsy – which initially showed a small shadow on the lung – and brain surgery to remove three tumours, plus extensive and intensive radiation treatments post-surgery, Andrew succumbed to his disease and died peacefully with his wife and dog, Dexter, by his side.
His untimely death set Leeann on the mission she was determined to make, to try to prevent other families experiencing the unnecessary heartache that Andrew’s wife and family went through.
In 2017, Leeann co-founded volunteer-based, non-profit organisation SkinCanNZ to raise awareness around skin cancer and to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with it.
The inaugural 2017 Free Skin Check Day was launched under the unforgettable campaign slogan ‘Get Your Kit Off’.
The free skin check sees a group of local dermatologists and GPs with a special interest in skin cancer provide an initial skin examination, free of charge, for anybody who has concerns about certain lesions on their skin.
A letter with relevant findings from the skin examination is then sent to the patient’s GP. If any concerning lesions are identified they then need to make an appointment with their GP so that appropriate treatment can be arranged. From the outset, Leeann wanted a skin check service that was more accessible to everyone. “For those unable to pay to get a mole or lesion checked out, you have to think how the outcomes of that can affect an entire family.”
Leeann’s crusade against skin cancer also saw the installation of free sunscreen dispensers last summer at children’s playgrounds in the Botanic Gardens, Margaret Mahy Family Playground, North Brighton Pier and Scarborough Park.
This year’s ‘Get Your Kit Off’ campaign encompasses Christchurch, Ashburton and Lower Hutt. And yes, as no doubt Andrew would attest about his determined sister, Leeann has her sights set on more locations the length and breadth of New Zealand.

Free skin check clinic at Ashburton Hospital

Date Published: Thursday 19 September 2019
Publisher: Ashburton's The Courier

A free skin check clinic, aimed at people over 50 who cannot afford to visit a doctor or special-ist, is being held in Ashburton on Novem-ber 9. Based at the out-patients department at Ashburton Hospital, the clinic runs from 10am until 2pm and is being offered through SkinCan NZ, a volunteer-run, non-profit organisation that aims to increase skin cancer awareness and make skin checks more accessible for people in Canterbury and further afield. Local GPs will give up their time to run the clinic and will offer 15-minute appoint-ments to those booked in. Around 50 checks are expected to be offered at the clinic and all patients must be registered with an Ash-burton GP. Bookings will go live on October 7 and can be made on the skincan-.org.nz website, follow-ing a short patient sur-vey. SkinCan NZ was started by Christchurch real estate agent Leeann Marriott, whose broth-er's deadly skin cancer was discovered late and took his life just 26 weeks after he was diagnosed. Visiting Ashburton recently to co-ordinate the free skin check clinic here with Mandy Casey from Mid Canterbury Cancer Society, Mrs Marriott said SkinCan NZ was now in its third year and was set up to promote skin cancer awareness and to make skin checks more access-ible for more people. "In our first year we had 165 skin checks and in our second year 265. "Now in our third year, we are expanding from Christchurch and into Ashburton and Lower Hutt." Mrs Marriott says New Zealand has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world. The public health sys-tem did not fund skin-cancer screenings and not everyone could afford to see a dermatol-ogist, or even a GP. The first point of call for anyone with con-cerns about moles or lesions was their GP, who would assess moles and then remove at-risk moles or refer patients on. Mrs Marriott said the clinic in Ashburton would offer checks only and no treatment. Patients would receive a copy of the notes from the assess-ment and a copy would be forwarded on to their GP.