Melanoma New Zealand Says Don’t Let A Spot Become A Full Stop
It has been labelled “New Zealand’s cancer” because we have the highest incidence rate of melanoma in the world. More than 4,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with melanoma every year and for many, melanoma starts life as a single spot hiding in plain sight.
Noticing new or changing spots and getting a diagnosis and treatment early gives the best chance of survival, however the problem is many New Zealanders simply don’t notice the changes.
For the past few weeks Melanoma New Zealand has been demonstrating how easy it is for people to miss changes to spots on their skin. All around New Zealand advertising supporters OOHMAA (Out Of Home Media Association Aotearoa), Powerball, No Ugly, L&P and MetService have had the full stops in their advertising change to reflect a melanoma. Designed with Melanoma New Zealand, these full stops represent seven visual signs of melanoma.
Advertising designed not to be noticed doesn’t happen very often, so it is hardly surprising few Kiwis noticed these changes, which is the challenge Melanoma New Zealand is working to overcome.
Today it will be revealed that the initiative was designed to draw attention to the need for New Zealanders to notice changes to spots on their own skin. Melanoma New Zealand’s newest advertising featuring the spots asks New Zealanders to do regular self-skin checks using the A-G guide on Melanoma New Zealand’s website (melanoma.org.nz) as well as have regular full body skin checks by a GP or specialist. The advertising also coincides with the launch of Melanoma New Zealand’s new Spot Check Van – a purpose-fitted van that will travel to communities around New Zealand providing education and free spot checks.
Melanoma New Zealand Chief Executive Andrea Newland says, “Although it was deliberately easy to miss the spots in the advertising, we want that to be a clear message to all New Zealanders that missing new or changing spots on your skin could be deadly. It’s heartbreaking to hear melanoma patients share that they didn’t notice a change until it was too late. If melanoma is caught and treated early enough, then a spot doesn’t have to become a full stop”.
The initiative is supported by a fundraising drive where New Zealanders are invited to text a . (i.e., a full stop) to 2923 to donate $3 to Melanoma New Zealand.
Available for comment and interview:
The below spokespeople are available for comment and interview about their experience with melanoma or advice on what to look out for, how to prevent it and for comment on the campaign.
Josh Emett: Melanoma New Zealand Ambassador Josh Emett is an internationally acclaimed Michelin star chef and restaurateur. Josh has a lived experience of melanoma, with his father and wingman Roger passing away from melanoma in 2011 – one year after having been diagnosed with Stage 1V metastatic melanoma.
Adine Wilson: Melanoma New Zealand Ambassador and former Silver Fern, Adine had been a sun worshipper for years when she discovered she had a malignant melanoma on her arm. Her relationship with the sun changed drastically; she now respects it and is much more responsible when she’s in it. Married to Jeff Wilson, a Kiwi sportsman who has represented New Zealand in both rugby union and cricket, the pair have two sons.
Dr Sonja Bodley: Wellington-based Dr Sonja Bodley is a Melanoma New Zealand Board Trustee. She has extensive experience in skin cancer detection and management both as a GP, and through her dedicated skin cancer/minor surgery clinic. Dr Bodley is a strong advocate for educating people to be aware of the risks of melanoma and to promote early detection and prevention. Throughout her career, Dr Bodley has developed written guidelines and information for parents around childhood sun safety which is now available to all Early Childhood Centers in New Zealand, and she has also partnered with local schools and organisations to give education sessions to young people and teachers around sun safety.
Out of Home Media Association Aotearoa (OOHMAA) Powerball, MetService, No Ugly, L&P.
Facts about melanoma:
Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer. If left untreated, it can spread rapidly to other parts of the body. New Zealand's melanoma incidence rate is the world's highest. More than 4000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with melanoma every year and more than 300 New Zealanders die from the disease each year. More New Zealanders die from skin cancer in New Zealand than on our roads.
What to look for?
Melanoma New Zealand’s A-G guide to melanoma recommends looking for any spots on your skin with these characteristics:
Asymmetry: One half is different from the other half
Border Irregularity: The edges are poorly defined (e.g. notched, uneven or blurred)
Colour is Uneven: Shades of brown, tan and black are present (there may also be white, grey, red, pink or blue)
Different: Looks different from other spots, freckles or moles (“ugly duckling”)
Evolving: Any changes in growth; new, elevated, itchy or painful
Firm: To the touch
Growing: Most are larger than 6mm and keep growing.
Undertaking regular skin checks is one of the most effective ways of detecting melanoma early. Anyone with concerns should consult their doctor or skin specialist immediately.