Doctors warn of new melanoma detection service

A melanoma victim has opened up about the terrible consequences of skin cancer as debates rage over who is best qualified to check our skin.

In four years, mother-of-five Ruth Davey has had six major operations after a small speck was misdiagnosed.

As a result of the misdiagnosis, her body has been bombarded by tumours and she's now fighting her life.

"The first doctor said it's fine. Second doctor said it's nothing to worry about. I'll freeze it off," she said.

"And unfortunately it sent particles into the blood stream and decided to bring on aggressive melanoma."

The cancer is now in her bones and she's lost three quarters of her elbow.

A steel rod replaces her shinbone, her ankle has been virtually destroyed by cancer and most of her left calf muscle is gone.

Yet Ms Davey is considered one of the lucky ones because she's still fighting after four years, while another 2000 Australians will die this year from melanoma.

Ruth Davey has had six major operations as a result of a melanoma that went undetected. Photo: 7News/supplied
Ruth Davey has had six major operations as a result of a melanoma that went undetected. Photo: 7News/supplied

This means the key to survival is early detection and treatment, and pharmacists have recently entered the melanoma checking business.

Major chemist chains offer to photograph three suspect spots and upload the images to a doctor for a professional look.

"Not diagnosing or prescribing any treatment necessary, the first port of call and gold standard is with the GP and for regular skin checks," pharmacist Carolyn Wynen said.

But the emergence of chemists in this area has angered doctors, who believe the new service is potentially dangerous.

"We don't want mistakes, misdiagnoses and potential deaths to arise from this because we know melanoma if it's not caught early is deadly," Dr Saxon Smith said.

Ms Davey has backed the doctors, urging all Australians to have regular medical checks but to stick to specialists trained to spot the killers on our skin.

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