The Australian government is placing a fairly large bet in the fight against melanoma. It is spending $3.2 million on a new melanoma cohort study to develop a standardized diagnosis for the disease.
$3.2 million seems like a hefty investment until you look at the scope of the problem. Australia has the highest rate of melanoma in the world. Skin cancer costs the Australian healthcare system more than $1 billion a year.
The study will be the first of its kind. Documenting the whole skin surface of participants with histopathology images on such a large scale has never been done. The aim is to capture 3D total-body images of 15,000 Australians across 3 different regions.
The data collected will then be used to develop next-generation diagnostic and prognostic algorithms for early detection of melanoma and skin cancer.
If successful, this study could be the next step in automating the skin cancer diagnosis process. Who knows, this could lead to an insanely accurate iPhone app for skin self-exams.