What The Screener Saw

skin cancer screening unit

Following the Lions District Convention in 2016 I asked about being a screener for the Lions Skin Cancer Screening program. Initially completing an online training: Rapid Screening and Assessment. This was somewhat difficult as I did not know what dermoscopy was, had never seen a dermoscope, had no idea that the images I was seeing were so magnified and everyone else doing the course at that time was experienced in dermoscopy so each time an image went up I would be mentally starting the check list trying to work out what I was looking at, and they would be discussing if it was malignant or benign and what signs they could see.

My first screening was in the Barossa and I had the privilege and good fortune to screen alongside Colin Beauchamp OAM, it all started to make sense, Colin is an excellent teacher so by days end on that first day I felt like I was starting to understand. Colin was generous enough to go over many clinical photos with me and help me identify what I was seeing. Having a nursing background, having worked as a midwife and spent many years in emergency departments looking at all sorts of skin issues both normal and abnormal certainly helped but I had a lot to learn. I purchased some additional text books, went over and over the online tutorials and by screening number two was scared witless by the responsibility of what I was doing.

The other screeners were very giving of their time, expertise and knowledge. Slowly I was learning to trust my own judgment in what I was looking at. Chris Lowings who is a Nurse Practitioner in this area and has huge knowledge has also been wonderful and I can’t thank him enough for his assistance.

Screening days are hard work for the screeners. You are concentrating, physically active – head to toe means lots of bending, kneeling and at times assisting people. Despite this the feedback is good and the thanks from almost everyone makes the time that you volunteer worth it.

By screening number five I was feeling a lot better about what I was doing, however I spent the six-hour drive to the screening site reading my text book and going over all I had learnt. Thank goodness John will always drive me to wherever I need to go.

At the end of 2018 I was asked If I would complete a different training course and give feedback. This was the Professional Certificate of Dermoscopy. It started with a video on how to perform a systematic dermoscopic examination. I was hooked as already this program seemed more complete. The lectures are available to do in your own time at your own pace and are delivered by world renowned experts.

When we get to a screening site the host club provides lunch and hospitality, this has never been short of amazing although Tumby Bay really managed to eclipse all others, their hospitality was outstanding thanks go to all their club member for an outstanding job.

On average about 30% of people screened are referred on to a GP for further review of a suspicious lesion. At Tumby we screened 157 people in 2 days. We worked hard!

This is a very worthwhile project and the limiting factor to having the bus out all the time is the number and availability of screeners. We need more to be trained so we can get the bus out more than 1 time per month.

You don’t need a health background to screen, (we screen, we don’t diagnose) so if you are interested Contact Rob Royale and let him know. Its enjoyable, fun, and the occasional drink of wine at the end of day allows you to get to know some great people. I have made lots of friends.

What did I see…well not much other than a lot of skin, freckles, moles, lumps and bumps. But its worth it. If we are managing to pick up what could be life threatening conditions and get people to early treatment, then it’s a job well done.

Written by Lion Carol Barnes (Kadina Lions Club)