This online test claims to reveal your chances of getting skin cancer in the next 3.5 years
An online test, designed to reveal your individual risk of getting skin cancer, has been launched by researchers in Queensland.
Based on the results of the Qskin study, which analysed the health and lifestyle of 40,000 Queenslanders (including 650 who had been diagnosed with melanoma during the research period), the Melanoma Risk Predictor claims to be able to highlight the chances of you developing skin cancer within the next three-and-a-half years.
It’s aimed at people over 40, as their risk is typically higher than younger people, but anyone of any age can run through the questions and get their rating. Ratings range from very much below average up to very much above average.
There are 15 questions in total, covering a range of risk factors such as age, gender, location, skin colouring and number of moles. These include: “Thinking about all of the times when you were outside in the sun during the past year, about how often did you apply sunscreen?,” “Have any close blood relatives ever been told that they have melanoma?,” and “When you were 21 years of age, how many moles did you have on your skin?”
The test, designed at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, is aimed at assessing the risk of a person developing a melanoma, deemed the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It has not been developed to estimate the risk of other types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma.
Plus, the developers admit the test is only around 70% accurate. It’s also modelled on a group of people from a very specific part of the world – one that gets higher than average sunshine compared to Western or certain Northern Hemisphere regions. The test asks for your email address but this is optional.
The team is also quick to stress that the Melanoma Risk Predictor should not be used as a substitute for seeing a doctor.
What is a melanoma?
According to the NHS, a melanoma is a “type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.” The most common sign is the appearance of a new mole, or if an existing mole changes shape or colour typically on a part of your body which is exposed to sunlight.
If you notice such a change, or new addition, consult a doctor – especially if the mole becomes itchy or bleeds. The NHS also has a so-called” ABCDE moles checklist” to help you tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma.