Anne Robinson reveals how her skin cancer scare made her sun savvy


London: New statistics show that skin cancer is now the fastest growing cancer in the UK, and as early detection is crucial in its treatment, the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) is launching a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of mole checking through its ABCD-Easy guide to mole checks.

Malignant melanoma kills around two thousand people a year, and the Association is keen to promote the use of its easy to use mole check guidelines. TV favourite Anne Robinson is supporting the campaign and turning her no-nonsense approach to the nation’s skin.

She said: “I doubt I would be here today if a dermatologist hadn’t spotted that the mole in the middle of my back looked dangerous. It wasn’t visible to me. It took two operations to clear my melanoma; the result of years of sunbathing when I was young without bothering too much about protection -or realizing the risk to someone as fair skinned as I am. I’m lucky to be alive.”

Anne’s case highlights the importance of checking you skin for signs of cancer, and the Association’s ABCD-Easy guide to mole checks focuses on the changes that may indicate a “melanoma” – the deadliest form of skin cancer:

Asymmetry – the two halves of the area may differ in shape

Border – the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches

Colour – this may be uneven. Different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen

Diameter – most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter. Report any change in size or shape to your doctor

Expert – if in doubt, check it out! If your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a Consultant Dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer. Your GP can refer you via the National Health Service.

Nina Goa d of the British Association of Dermatologists said: “Early detection of skin cancer can make all the difference to successful treatment and by promoting how easy skin checking can be, literally as easy as ABC, we want to encourage more people to make it part of their health routine.”

Dermatologists are the experts in diagnosing and treating skin cancer, and BAD recommends reporting any unusual changes in your skin (not only those in its ABCDE guide) to your doctor so that a referral can be made.

The vast majority of skin cancers are caused by excess exposure to the sun. In fact, more than four out of five cases of skin cancer are thought to be preventable. Simply being more aware of the general health of your skin and checking moles regularly – at least four times a year – could make all the difference.

Instant mole screening with MoleMate

London: MoleMate, a non-invasive and pain-free melanoma screening device, will enable General Practitioners and skin specialists to scan and evaluate suspicious lesions within seconds and make instant clinical decisions ‘on the spot’.

The handheld device which has been developed by Cambridge, UK-based Astron Clinica, utilises the clinically proven Hunter Scoring System, along with an easy-to-use decision support system, to provide clear guidelines on how to assess a suspect mole against a database of examples.

MoleMate will make it possible for doctors to identify the best course of action for an unusual mole – whether it be to refer, excise or provide reassurance – during the first consultation with a patient.

MoleMate features a magnified dermoscopic view for those medical professionals familiar with dermoscopy and also the complete SIAscopy imaging suite: haemoglobin, melanin, dermal melanin and collagen up to 2mm beneath the surface of the skin.

‘Working with dermatologists in the UK for years, it became very clear that many innocent moles were being referred, causing a great deal of stress and worry to the patient, increased spending costs for the NHS through unnecessary excisions, and a reduction in the amount of time dermatologists had available for treating confirmed melanoma patients. We decided to develop a new system specifically for GP practices that would give them access to the same technology that many dermatologists were using to scan suspicious moles so that they can offer a screening service in situ.

MoleMate is the answer,’ says Annie Brooking, CEO, Astron Clinica. Melanoma, one of the most treatable of cancers if caught in time, kills over 1,700 people in the UK needlessly every year. Increasing awareness among the general public, driven by Cancer Research’s annual SunSmart campaign, has led to a significant increase in referrals of suspect moles to dermatologists. MoleMate scans could significantly increase the number of melanomas referred early, providing Primary Care Trusts and GP practices with greater budget flexibility for the treatment of positive melanoma lesions.

At the same time, MoleMate could provide an invaluable role in reassuring and advising patients on the best course of action following an instant scan, rather than having to wait for an appointment with a dermatology consultant or for the results of an excision.

“MoleMate is clear and simple to use”, said Dr. Rob Howlett, a General Practitioner in Thaxted, Cambridge. “It produces high quality images to aid in clinical diagnosis and also provides great reassurance to patients. My patients loved it!”

MoleMate consists of a hand held scanner and software that uses SIAscopy, Astron Clinica’s patented skin imaging technology that scans and visualises haemoglobin, melanin, dermal melanin and collagen up to 2mm beneath the surface of the skin.

The Hunter Scoring System, developed by Miss Jude Hunter in conjunction with GP practices and Cambridge University Teaching hospital, aids the detection of many types of suspicious lesions during the early stages of their development. MoleMate produces a patient report that includes the patient’s SIAscans together with data required for referral, or for the patient to take home. SIAscopy, developed by Astron Clinica, is used by skin specialists and medical professionals including GPs. Astron Clinica’s products quantify and manage skin health and skin conditions and assist specialists to identify a variety of skin cancers.

Astron Clinica, based in Cambridge UK, designs, develops and brings to market its skin imaging products that incorporates its proprietary skin imaging technology SIAscopy, further information available at

SIAscopy uniquely enables medical, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry professionals to visualise up to 2mm beneath the surface of the skin using both a proprietary hand held scanner and an off-the-shelf digital camera. Astron Clinica’s customers include dermatologists, plastic surgeons, GPs and aesthetic medicine practitioners.