Kiwi medtech company MoleMap announces surgical expansion in New Zealand

  • 04/07/2022
Mole inspection
Melanoma can be cured in 98 percent of cases if diagnosed early. Photo credit: Getty Images

Kiwis with skin cancer could benefit from the launch of new dedicated surgical facilities capable of treating thousands of patients each year.

Aotearoa's largest skin cancer detection service, MoleMap, has announced the new surgeries will be capable of providing Kiwis with cancerous skin lesions immediate surgical treatments following their diagnosis.

The medtech company said the move was expected to increase specialised skin cancer surgical capacity within the healthcare sector in New Zealand, as well as reducing the time between diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients.

That could prove a life-saver for Kiwis, with skin cancer New Zealand's most common cancer - 90,000 non-melanoma skin lesions are diagnosed each year, according to a study.

That comes with a massive cost to the health service, with the total figure set to reach $295 million within three years, the study said.

New Zealand also has the world's highest rates of melanoma with 4000 new cases and over 350 Kiwis dying from this form of cancer every year.

The company has 300,000 patients across both Aotearoa and Australia, and plans to double its size in the next three years, boosting cancer treatment options on both sides of the Tasman.

Dr Franz Strydom, MoleMap chief medical officer New Zealand, said melanoma can be cured in 98 percent of cases if diagnosed early. 

He said when diagnosed at a later stage, melanoma becomes more difficult and expensive to treat with a greater chance of treatment failure . 

"Unlike most other forms of cancer, the development of melanoma can often be identified and tracked on the surface of the skin - providing the opportunity to excise it before it spreads to other parts of the body.

"As a result, early detection would more likely result in early treatment and a positive outcome. The new health care model developed by MoleMap is designed to allow expedited and empathetic treatment for this patient cohort," he said.

An advanced training programme will be used to upskill its international network of melanographers who are qualified registered nurses to provide non-surgical treatment options at the point of diagnosis, the company said.

MoleMap also announced it will offer counselling services for those diagnosed with skin cancers.

Michelle Aquilina, MoleMap CEO, said the expansion was "a significant milestone" for the Kiwi medtech startup.

"By integrating detection and treatment, we can extend our service from ongoing surveillance and teledermatology diagnosis through to treatment - effectively closing the loop on skin cancer prevention and streamlining the patient journey," she said.

"The first of the specialised skin clinics to be brought into the MoleMap group will be the Bay of Plenty practice Skinspots - which is made up of a team of 18 doctors, nurses and support staff.

"The Health Care Professionals (HCPs) from the clinic will form part of our 'hub and spoke' model where skin cancer treatment is extended beyond the region into satellite clinics - which are part of our existing network.

"We will also look to recruit other GPs and dermatologists from around the country who have experience and expertise in treating skin cancer and connect them with a large number of patients referred from our diagnostic services."