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Update: GPs + Skin Work, 3D Mammogram Improvements in Medical Imaging and Australia’s Largest Pharmacy Opens Overseas

October 29, 2019 0 Comments

We highlight why GPs in Australia should consider up-skilling in Skin Work, new 3D Mammography findings and Australia’s Largest Pharmacy retailer opening in China.

Up-Skilling: GPs + Skin Work

3D Mammogram Improvements in Medical Imaging

Australia’s Largest Pharmacy Opens Overseas


GPs + Skin Work

In General Practice, GPs can further specialise in certain areas that have a great impact on the patients in the community but also their own workload. Skin work is one of those areas in demand with GPs.

Skin Cancer on the Rise

The Cancer Council of Australia (CCA) estimates that two in three Australians may be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they reach the age of 70.

Findings from them (CCA) also suggest that in Australia:

  • Each year skin cancers make up for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
  • Exposure to the sun is believed to be the main cause
  • Over 1 million GP consultations happen because of it
  • Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, roughly two to three times more than countries such as Canada, the US and the UK

There are three main types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The latter being the most dangerous form. To put this in perspective, CCA found that in 2016: 1960 deaths happened due to skin cancer and of those, 1281 were from melanoma.

Applying sunscreen to reduce the risk of skin cancer

Australia’s Institute of Health and Welfare also published a report about 2016, with findings that skin cancer accounts for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia. That year and the years prior as well.

The report estimated 13,280 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in Australia that year, and by tracking similar findings from back in the 1980s leading up to 2016 they found interesting changes in the rates of diagnosis. The rate of melanoma for people of a certain age increased during that time from 27 per 100,000 cases to 49 per 100,000 cases in 2016. But for people under the age of 40 the rate decreased, from 13 per 100,000 cases to 9.4 per 100,000 cases in 2016.

While this may seem positive and suggest that there are chances for survival , the overall mortality rate has increased – from 4.7 deaths per 100,000 cases to 6.2 deaths per 100,000 cases in 2016.

Substantial Medicare benefits are also claimed on skin cancer each year. The report estimated that in 2014 alone, around $9.4 million worth of Medicare benefits (40,179 claims) were paid for melanoma and $127.6 million for non-melanoma skin cancer (959,243 claims).

Heart and doctor instrument-1

GP Role in Skin Cancer

The CCA also recommends patients to see their GP immediately if they think they have any suspicious spots, moles or freckles. Both new ones and if there are any changes to the ones patients already had.

Qualified General Practitioners are equipped with knowledge to help patients understand their personal risk factors for skin cancer. They can also:

  • Examine the patient’s skin
  • Treat some types of skin cancers themselves
  • Refer the patient to a specialist if required
  • Provide care and follow-ups
  • Provide information on skin cancer prevention

For skin cancer diagnosis, GPs examine the suspicious spots, freckles or moles. If anything is suspected, the GP will do a biopsy. The biopsy will be sent to a laboratory for testing, after which the doctor will inform and discuss the results with the patient. Then if required, further treatment options or referrals to Specialists will be discussed.

Doctor discussing with his patient

For those interested to find out more, we can suggest a wide variety of GP positions in Australia that require Skin work for suitable doctors.

Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Dermatology report showed that General Practitioners are a crucial element in the skin cancer health workforce. Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) data provides a partial picture of the GP + Skin work workforce, such as billings from GPs to Medicare for skin cancer services.

The Medicare data from the recent years reported that in 2015 a total of 379 GPs were classified as performing a high level of skin cancer services, with approx 2,107 services per year.

And 1,140 GPs were classified as performing a moderate level of services, with approx 589 per year.

Medicare skin cancer by service group 2015

                                                                         Source: Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Dermatology report 2017

Comparing it to the dermatologists workforce, the report showed that each year skin cancer clinic general practitioners are providing services approx 1.5 times that of services claimed with Medicare by specialist dermatologists.

Medicare Items Billed Dermatology Report 2017

                                                                           Source: Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Dermatology report 2017

The report also suggested that GPs working in a general practice or medical centre and those working in skin cancer clinics diagnose patients with a similar accuracy.

GPs are the first line of patient care, and the Advance Care Directives (ACD) encourages them to up-skill and further educate in skin cancer surveillance and management.


What are your thoughts on the rise of skin cancer and what GPs in Australia can do to help? We would love to hear from you.


3D Mammogram Improvements in Medical Imaging

A research group from the University of Sydney compared 3D mammography and standard mammography screening of women in an effort to improve the results of breast cancer screening.

Overview of the Research

The University of Sydney study of 3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, has shown improvements in Detection, Recalls and Screen Reading Times when compared to standard mammography. The researchers looked at the effectiveness of the 3D mammography technique and found significant improvements, but also highlighted it is still too soon to celebrate if better detection may lead to overall better health outcomes for women.

A pilot trial of the 3D mammography findings were also published. The preliminary findings should serve as a strong basis for further large scale evaluations due to the trial showing favourable results.

10,146 women chose to participate, with 5166 standard mammography screens undertaken and 5018 3D mammography screens. The standard screens detected 34 cancers, the 3D screens detected 49 and differences were even greater when comparing repeat screens and the results of women over the age of 60.

Cancer Treatment - Printed with Mint Green Pills, Injections and Syringe. Medical Concept with Selective Focus.

This is the first Australian population-based trial of the effectiveness of digital breast tomosynthesis screening, and it was done in the BreastScreen Victoria program.

The participants were women over the age of 40 who presented for routine breast screening between August 2017 and November 2018 at the Maroondah BreastScreen service in Melbourne.

Method and Key Findings

From the study, the researchers found that:

  • Tomosynthesis detected 49 cancers; Standard mammography detected 34 cancers
  • With tomosynthesis, the estimated difference was 3.2 more detections per 1000 screens
  • The Recall rate with tomosynthesis was 4.2% compared to 3% with Standard mammography
  • The Screen Reading Time with tomosynthesis was 67 seconds compared to 16 seconds with Standard mammography

They suggested that the tomosynthesis screening is feasible to implement at BreastScreen Maroondah. It has a low opt-out rate, and could increase the breast cancer detection rate.

Hands joined in circle holding breast cancer struggle symbol on white background

The researchers confirmed that there was more frequent detection by tomosynthesis screening than in standard mammography. But this could indicate it is more sensitive than standard mammography. The results are showing improvements, but may not yet suggest an improvement in overall health outcomes for women.

There are some disadvantages when using the tomosynthesis technique. Because of the amount of radiation exposure with tomosynthesis, the method should be carefully considered with each patient.

Another drawback can be the longer screen reading time, which needs to be considered when preparing for larger trials of tomosynthesis screening.

According to the authors, there are other factors worth keeping in mind such as:

  • The imaging data and information infrastructure are important aspects to the success of tomosynthesis screening
  • As this was a pilot trial, careful planning allowed for modifications that supported the implementation of tomosynthesis. Substantial changes may need to facilitate the use of the method in a higher volume population screening program

They further mentioned the future scope of study being a part of their limitations. The trial provided findings that could be further examined in larger, multi-service comparisons of tomosynthesis, including longer-term endpoints.

The balance between the benefits and harms of this new technology must be carefully assessed to ensure that it can be the most effective form of screening for Australian women.


What are your thoughts on the findings of the study? We would love to hear from you.

Composite image for breast cancer awareness with text on card


Australia’s Largest Pharmacy Opens Overseas

Earlier this month pharmacy retailer Chemist Warehouse reported they are opening its first brick-and-mortar store in China as a pilot for future store openings.

Chemist Warehouse’s First Physical Store in China

Earlier this month, Chemist Warehouse reported they are opening their first store in China, in the Henan province. The store will operate alongside a new online marketplace, and serves as a pilot for future store openings.

The chief executive officer of Chemist Warehouse China, explained to InsideRetail that the store is an online-to-offline self-pick-up store. Customers can still shop in the physical store, to enjoy the Chemist Warehouse shopping experience.

As this is a pilot store, the company also intends to expand to other cities of China in the near future. In Australia, there are currently over 450 Chemist Warehouse stores. They are also established in New Zealand.

team of pharmacist chemist woman and man group standing in pharmacy drugstore

Since Chemist Warehouse initially partnered with the Tmall Global marketplace (the global site of Alibaba) in 2015, they have reportedly been the number one cross-border retailer on the e-commerce site.

This month, the discount chemist giant renewed its strategic collaboration with Tmall Global for another two years. Chemist Warehouse will now be opening additional online stores and promises to boost its marketing efforts to reach more Chinese customers.

Figures from Alibaba’s annual single day Global Shopping Festival in November have shown that initially in 2015, Chemist Warehouse was the first cross-border retailer in the world to reach gross merchandise volume of AUD $2.1 million. In 2018, this has significantly increased to AUD $20.8 million.

The Dailymail also reported on the 2015 Global Shopping Festival, where Chemist Warehouse only needed 46 minutes to sell more than $1.9 million worth of its health and beauty products to Chinese buyers.

An Alibaba spokesperson mentioned that Chemist Warehouse had a very successful launch on their site. They became the fastest retailer on Alibaba to hit the record in sales on the shopping festival day.

They highlighted that Alibaba users can buy from around 1,300 Australian brands through the Tmall website and the customers are valuing high quality Australian goods over their prices. The fact that the brand was also listed on Tmall as a trusted provider of health products has appealed to the Chinese customers.

Pills spilling from a bottle

Bubs and Chemist Warehouse to Expand Further to Chinese Market

Also this year, Bubs, the infant formula maker, also entered into a deal with Chemist Warehouse. The deal will both help Bubs to establish in the domestic market and to improve its distribution channels into China, the same market which Chemist Warehouse has earned influence and reputation in.

The Chinese sales reported from Bubs’ 2018 year-end report have also seen an increase by 2,281 per cent compared with Q2 2018.

Bubs said that partnering with Chemist Warehouse will allow them to further increase their reach to the Chinese customers through the discount giant. This is in strong response to the increasing number of Chinese residents and tourists alike selling Australian health and infant nutrition products back to China.

Bubs also acknowledged that Chemist Warehouse’s online store at Tmall Global is the largest in the world by gross merchandise volume. In return for marketing support, Chemist Warehouse will charge a share-based fee to Bubs.

Subject to Bubs hitting their sales targets, Chemist Warehouse will also be able to purchase additional Bubs shares, in annual instalments over a three-year period.

Pharmacy medicine on green background


What do you think about Chemist Warehouse’ further expansion to China? We would love to hear from you.

Gorilla Jobs can assist you with exploring a variety of job opportunities across our large network of clients looking for qualified staff. Our experienced consultants in the Doctor, Imaging and Pharmacy divisions look forward to helping you.

Speak to one of our Senior Consultants today and find out what career and recruitment advice will help you to navigate through the positions available and which ones are most suited to your situation.

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