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UK incidence of the serious skin cancer melanoma is rising rapidly and action in primary care settings has potential to substantially improve early diagnosis and drive better outcomes for patients. Research from the Primary Care Unit in Cambridge is shaping diagnosis procedures in primary care which could deliver measurable reductions in mortality and morbidity amongst patients with melanoma.

Dr Fiona Walter, Principal Researcher in Primary Care Cancer Research at the Primary Care Unit, University of Cambridge, has focused on detecting melanoma in primary care since 2007, alongside other major studies on the role of primary care in cancer prevention, diagnosis and follow-up care.

Dr Walter’s work on melanoma, supported throughout by NIHR, now underpins the wide-ranging MelaTools programme of research. This current portfolio of studies has the overall aim of optimising early diagnosis of melanoma, in the UK primary care setting.

Between 2007 and 2010, Fiona received School funding to conduct the MoleMate Trial to investigate the serious skin cancer melanoma. The study team examined the effect of adding a diagnostic aid, the MoleMate system, to manage suspicious lesions in primary care. The findings influenced the revised NICE guidelines for suspected cancer in 2015 and underpinned the development of new approaches to the systematic use of best practice guidelines.

The MoleMate paper which won RCGP Research Paper of the Year Award: 

Effect of adding a diagnostic aid to best practice to manage suspicious pigmented lesions in primary care: randomised controlled trial

Read the full piece on the Cancer Group site, Primary Care Unit, University of Cambridge.