The Fitzroy Medical Centre has a new piece of equipment worth about as much as a car – the FotoFinder, a sophisticated imaging device that enables highly accurate early detection of skin cancer.
It’s one of only three in the Riverina, with Tumut patients currently travelling to Wagga if their doctor thinks they have a mole that needs specialist analysis.
Fitzroy Medical Centre’s Dr Gamal Mark was the driving force behind the purchase of the machine; having a skin cancer detection service in Tumut has been a long-time dream of his.
However, all GPs in the region will have access to the FotoFinder, not just Fitzroy patients.
“We all work together, to give [other doctors] a chance either to send the patient to us – we can do the scan, and send it back to them so that they can treat the patient – or, we can deal with the skin cancer ourselves. It’s up to the doctor,” Dr Mark explained.
“We have two doctors trained in this area, Dr Han and Dr Lawrence, and I am also ready to step in if they have a lot of patients.
“They are well trained to use the machine, and they use the FotoFinder on Tuesdays. If we find enough interest, we also may use it two or even three days a week.”
The FotoFinder has been running for three weeks now, and has already identified four melanomas.
The device simplifies the process of identifying potentially dangerous skin cancers, and makes detection extraordinarily accurate.
It has a zoom of over 140 times, and permanently stores all images for future records.
In fact, one of the key benefits of the machine is that patients can have a scan done of a certain freckle, and then in another six months do another comparison scan to stay on top of any changes.
It looks quite sci-fi, but as Dr Mark explains, it’s an easy process.
“The machine scans the whole body from head to toe,” he said.
“Then any legion is checked with the magnifying lens to see anything suspicious. Then, we can cut it or burn it, and if we are not sure we can send it elsewhere to get advice.
“We can do the procedure within the next few days, and if we have a legion that we are certain is a melanoma we can cut it the same day.”
The procedure takes 15 – 20 minutes, and can be bulk billed.
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with over 2000 people dying from the disease every year.