Monash University and Alfred Health take part in world-first approach to improve melanoma outcomes using 3D whole body imaging
Monash University and Alfred Health are among 15 health services and research organisations around Australia that will attempt to improve melanoma detection by using the advanced imaging technology provided by the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) Australian Centre of Excellence in Melanoma Imaging and Diagnosis (ACEMID). The Centre launches today, and offers superior 3D whole body imaging which will be used for improving early diagnosis and management of melanoma patients, and provide an invaluable platform for research into the condition.
Australia has the world’s highest rate of melanoma, with 1,700 Australians dying of the condition each year. No standardised diagnosis pathway exists, and treatment costs in Australia exceed AUD $1 billion per year.
Funded by ACRF and administered by University of Queensland researchers, ACEMID comprises a network of 15 imaging hubs in health services located across Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales that between them contain 15 Vectra 3D imaging machines. The Alfred Hospital is the first Victorian site to come online in Victoria.
ACEMID Victorian Clinical Lead Dr Victoria Mar is an Associate Professor with Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and Director of the Victorian Melanoma Service at the Alfred Hospital. She says, “Early detection of melanoma leads to better outcomes, and we hope to enhance this with improved imaging technology. I’d like to thank the ACRF and their generous donors for funding the ACEMID infrastructure, without which all of the clinical trials and studies that we are now planning wouldn’t be possible.”
The machines create a 3D avatar to undertake full body mapping, allowing researchers to investigate and track moles and skin spots over time.
The ACEMID team plans to create a national database of up to 100,000 patient images taken from across the sites. These scans will then be analysed to help develop a skin cancer and Melanoma algorithm using artificial intelligence, which will game-changer for detection and management going forward.
A/Prof Mar is also leading another trial that is comparing melanoma surveillance photography (MSP) to clinical monitoring without MSP to determine which method results in fewer unnecessary biopsies in patients at high risk of melanoma. MSP is not currently reimbursed by Medicare, so the trial aims to provide the Federal Government with high-quality data to decide if MSP should be covered by Medicare. The IMAGE trial is coordinated by Melanoma and Skin Cancer Trials Ltd, which is affiliated with the School’s Melanoma and Skin Cancer Research Centre.
The Alfred Hospital site will serve as the home for a Monash University- and Alfred Health-led study involving 15,000 Australians. Announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt MP in June, it is one of 30 clinical trials and cohort studies to be funded through the National Health and Medical Research Council’s $74 million investment to find better ways to prevent, detect and treat disease.
The AUD$3.2 million melanoma cohort study, led by Associate Professor Victoria Mar, will be the first in the world to document on such a large scale the whole skin surface of participants with histopathology images and other patient details.
ACEMID funding body ACRFis a leading independent charity focusing on funding the technology, equipment and infrastructure researchers need to progress the prevention, detection and treatment of all cancers.
Help us outsmart melanoma and reduce the death toll from Australia’s national cancer.
15 sites across Australia with plan to include the following locations:
- Princess Alexandra Hospital (Pilot site already exists, will be joined to ACRF network)
- Sunshine Coast
- Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital
- Mt Isa
New South Wales
- Westmead Hospital
- Melanoma Institute Australia
- Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
- Port Macquarie/Coffs Harbour
- The Alfred Hospital
- Skin Health Institute
- Bendigo Health
- Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
- Bass Coast Health, Wonthaggi