Dr. Jessica Duarte is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. With her 2019 Cure Cancer funding, Jessica focused specifically on work with melanoma patients receiving immunotherapy. We’ve sat down with her to ask a few questions around her incredible research and sun safety.
What changes/trends have you seen recently in your skin cancer research?
Recently, studies have shown that COVID-19 has substantially affected the amount of skin cancer diagnoses, with patients being reluctant to attend clinics for their regular screening skin checks. This means that there are a large number of cases that are being left undiagnosed, which continue to grow and possibly spread without therapeutic intervention. Delayed diagnoses and the associated delay in treatment of skin cancers will lead to worse patient outcomes, as patients then present with more advanced disease. This is why prevention and screening approaches, particularly those easily accessible from the comfort and privacy of our homes, are of the utmost importance.
What is the best way to prevent skin cancer/melanoma?
Sun exposure is the main risk factor for skin cancers, including melanoma. Sunscreen use, UV protective clothing use and avoiding excessive sun exposure and sunburns can substantially reduce the likelihood of developing skin cancer. Similarly, the use of modern skin screening tools freely accessible via mobile phones can allow patients to monitor their skin for any suspicious or changing lesions that may require medical intervention. Moreover, prevention is better than cure.
What does Solbari’s mission, empowering people to live a sun-safe life, mean to you as a skin cancer researcher?
Solbari’s mission is so inspiring, as it can potentially save lives. Empowering people to live sun-safe lives, be protected from excessive sun exposure and actively monitor any changes to their skin will lead to less cases of skin cancer or the early detection of unavoidable cases. If widespread, this may substantially improve skin cancer patient outcomes.