Gibraltar Chronicle Logo
Local News

‘Mole mapping’ kit helps early detection of skin cancer, generating rolling donations to Cancer Relief

Photos by Johnny Bugeja

A new piece of cutting-edge body imaging equipment that could save the lives of people with skin cancer has been donated to the Specialist Medical Clinic in Gibraltar, with part of the proceeds from future consultations to be donated to Cancer Relief Gibraltar.

The ‘Mole Mapping’ machine provides automated total-body digital imaging, which helps doctors identify new skin lesions and carefully assess, monitor and treat moles which are growing or changing shape.

The new machine will allow patients to have their skin imaged and digitally recorded for future comparison and management of skin lesions.

The artificial intelligence built into the machine identifies areas of concern for medical review and follow up.

The equipment was purchased and donated to the clinic by Chestertons after its director, Mike Nicholls, was last year told he had melanoma for the second time in 13 years.

The diagnosis was the catalyst behind his decision to purchase the equipment instead of making a donation directly to Cancer Relief Gibraltar.

While he now checks his skin regularly, Mr Nicholls said it is not always easy to spot changes to moles and marks on the body.

“I know that earlier detection could have saved me a lot of worry and treatment,” he added.

“If this equipment saves the life of just one person, it will be worth it and it has the potential to do much more.”

For each consultation, £100 will be donated to Cancer Relief Gibraltar, and Mr Nicholls estimated that, at four consultations a week, that will be £20,000 a year.

“This way the charity gets more than the donation, and we pick up those who get mapped and have something identified who would not normally have gone to check their moles,” he said.

The service was officially launched in the Specialist Medical Clinic on Tuesday on World Melanoma Day with a demonstration run carried out by Patrick Shaw, the clinic’s business development manager.

Mr Shaw stood in front of the machine, which allowed it to scan his body for all skin lesions and moles.

The Specialist Medical Clinic said the cost of the full body imaging session will be “equitable to the average price in the UK, with a £100 donation made to the charity for each patient scanned”.

Dr David Deardon, CEO of the Specialist Medical Clinic, told reporters this the latest technology and is being used in reputable clinics and hospitals in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“We are very lucky to have it, and we are hoping this is something that people will want to use, and from our point of view we are delighted to be working with Mike and Cancer Relief because it is good for the community and good for Gibraltar,” Dr Deardon said.

“Skin cancer here in Gibraltar is relatively high given the sunny climate, so there is quite a lot of the disease here.”

“Here at the clinic and at the GHA we do see a lot of skin cancer so it is important they are picked up early because if they are left, especially the melanomas, the treatment can be quite extensive.”

“When detected early the cure rate for melanoma is nearly 100%, but if it isn’t detected early enough it can be fatal.”

“Historically people have had to rely on their own powers of observation, which of course is flawed.”

“This new addition of state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment is a great benefit to the people of Gibraltar and thanks to Chestertons’ generous donation, will also be a great benefit to the Cancer Relief Centre.”

Any moles of concern that may have changed between sessions are then assessed by healthcare practitioners.

If there are further concerns, then the nurse can “telemedicine” that to the UK and have the images re-read by the lead dermatologist at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Dr Deardon said the clinic should be able to diagnose the moles in 95% of the cases here, and the clinicians will recommend removal in house or keep an eye on it.

The more that it is used, the more it will learn what the skin types are like here in Gibraltar.

Dr Deardon said that for darker skin tones or people of colour, the machine may at first give more “false negatives” but, as it is “taught what is normal” in the patient, it will eliminate those and look for those that have not picked up yet.

There are currently three nurses trained in the clinic to use this equipment, and the service will be available on Tuesday and Wednesday.

People can be monitored on a yearly basis, but this might be on a more regular basis for patients of concern.

Marisa Desoiza, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for Cancer Relief, told the Chronicle that in financial terms this is a “massive donation” that the charity will get and will help to support the centre’s services.

“More importantly, this is about the prevention of cancer and so we are very privileged to be a part of this,” she added.

“While we get a donation, what is great is that this will also help pick up any potential cancers and get them very early.”

“It’s a win-win situation.”

For her part, Vanessa Cross, Cancer Relief’s senior centre nurse, said this will help to raise awareness for cancers of the skin and encourage people to get tested when they see how “easy” it is.

She encouraged more people diagnosed with skin cancer to get in touch with the charity and enquire about its services not just for themselves but for loved ones, adding that they do not need to be referred by a healthcare professional.

Most Read

Download The App On The iOS Store