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Making skin checks accessible

New Zealand currently has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. Some skin cancers can be fatal; early detection and treatment is crucial to achieving the best cure rate.



Leeann Marriott is only too aware of the importance of early detection and the vast difference it can make in outcomes; she lost her brother, Andrew, to melanoma when he was 48 years old.

Though the primary source of his melanoma was unfortunately never found, Leeann recalls as children on summer holidays in Nelson; the family would head to Rabbit Island, where they would baste themselves in baby oil or Coppertone and let the sun bake their bodies.

Decades later, in February 2015, Andrew returned home early from a holiday because his wife was concerned about him; his normal brain function seemed to be impaired. Just 26 weeks later, after exhaustive scans, a biopsy – which initially showed a small shadow on the lung – and brain surgery to remove three tumours, plus extensive and intensive radiation treatments post-surgery, Andrew succumbed to his disease and died peacefully with his wife and dog, Dexter, by his side.

His untimely death set Leeann on the mission she was determined to make, to try to prevent other families experiencing the unnecessary heartache that Andrew’s wife and family went through.

In 2017, Leeann co-founded volunteer-based, non-profit organisation SkinCanNZ to raise awareness around skin cancer and to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with it.

The inaugural 2017 Free Skin Check Day was launched under the unforgettable campaign slogan ‘Get Your Kit Off’.

The free skin check sees a group of local dermatologists and GPs with a special interest in skin cancer provide an initial skin examination, free of charge, for anybody who has concerns about certain lesions on their skin.

A letter with relevant findings from the skin examination is then sent to the patient’s GP. If any concerning lesions are identified they then need to make an appointment with their GP so that appropriate treatment can be arranged.

From the outset, Leeann wanted a skin check service that was more accessible to everyone. “For those unable to pay to get a mole or lesion checked out, you have to think how the outcomes of that can affect an entire family.”

Leeann’s crusade against skin cancer also saw the installation of free sunscreen dispensers last summer at children’s playgrounds in the Botanic Gardens, Margaret Mahy Family Playground, North Brighton Pier and Scarborough Park.

This year’s ‘Get Your Kit Off’ campaign encompasses Christchurch, Ashburton and Lower Hutt. And yes, as no doubt Andrew would attest about his determined sister, Leeann has her sights set on more locations the length and breadth of New Zealand.


Free Skin Check Day: SATURDAY 9 NOVEMBER 2019

Christchurch: Canterbury Charity Hospital
Lower Hutt: Boulcott Private Hospital
Ashburton: Ashburton Hospital – Outpatients Clinic

For more information, email or visit



Cutting Edge Skin Cancer Checks: Encore

It’s an unfortunate fact that New Zealand has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world.


Major factors which increase our exposure to UV radiation are our thin ozone layer and a lack of atmospheric pollution to block the harmful rays. We know that regular skin cancer checks should be part of our wellness routine. Dr. Mairi-Clare Ferguson brings a unique and world class service to Christchurch, incorporating her clinical expertise with cutting-edge digital technology and advanced artificial intelligence.

A Consultant Dermatologist who has dedicated her career to the management of skin cancer, she has studied advanced dermoscopy interpretation with the University of Queensland and also holds a Fellowship qualification in advanced skin surgery techniques from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in the United Kingdom. In addition to personally performing your skin check, Mairi-Clare utilises FotoFinder technology to digitally map and analyse any suspicious lesions.


FotoFinder is a German company who are recognised as global leaders in digital imaging and mole mapping. When examining for skin cancer, most doctors use a dermatoscope – a basic handheld instrument that gives a magnified and polarised image of your mole. The polarisation reduces the scatter of light at the surface of the skin, which allows them to see into the skin’s surface layers.

Mairi-Clare explains more in-depth about the advantages of using FotoFinder technology. “To enhance the dermatoscopic image further, the FotoFinder camera implements 20 times magnification and polarisation. It displays the detailed image on a screen which enables the patient to see everything for themselves. It educates and empowers the patient to understand what we’re looking at.

“In addition, the software measures and records the exact dimensions, patterns and colours of skin lesions which are then mapped onto the patient’s body shots. Should the patient return at a later date with concerns about a lesion then a ‘ghost’ image is taken and layered on top of the original picture. The computer deciphers if there are any changes, no matter how subtle.”

All patients have a digital record of their skin kept at the clinic, and a PDF report with colour images of any suspicious moles will be given to them and their GP. The skin checks and surgery are performed within the warm and welcoming environment of Encoré Skin Cancer Clinic. You will receive a very personalised service where the same dermatologist will perform the skin check and also any additional medical or surgical treatment of suspicious lesions.


Surgical options include an ultra-specialised technique for skin cancer removal called Mohs Micrographic Surgery, which is the gold standard for removal for non-melanoma skin cancers. With her own online booking system, patients can book appointments with Mairi-Clare from the comfort of their homes.

For online bookings head to or contact Encore Skin Cancer Clinic on 03 356 0214 to book an appointment with Dr Mairi-Clare.




Early detection does matter: Molecheck and why you should get your skin checked sooner rather than later

Just like blood pressure, mammograms or a dental checkup, it’s important to monitor your skin’s health. As we say goodbye to summer, it’s time to tick off your skin check as well. Early detection matters.


We’ve enjoyed the sunshine, now we should check what damage it may have caused. Even though skin cancer is usually easy to spot and treat, certain types can be deadly when left untreated. Although anyone can develop a skin cancer, those with a history of high sun exposure (particularly sunburns) and fair skinned people are the most vulnerable. The facts are stark:

  • New Zealand has the highest melanoma incidence rate in the world;
  • Two in three New Zealanders will develop a skin cancer over their lifetime;
  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer;
  • Around 70,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma and other skin cancers in New Zealand every year;
  • About 500 New Zealanders die annually from skin cancer;
  • Most skin cancers can be cured with early diagnosis and treatment;
  • The sooner skin cancers are detected, the simpler the treatment and the more successful it is likely to be.

Early diagnosis is vital so it’s important to go to an expert who is trained in detecting skin cancer – a doctor at Molecheck.

Why Molecheck?

The skin cancer doctors at Molecheck have had extensive training in dermoscopy and skin cancer management. They aim to detect skin cancer at the earliest possible stage using a hand-held, surface microscope called a dermoscope.
Skin cancer can occur on any part of the skin, not just in moles. The Molecheck team uses the latest dermoscopy techniques to view structures beneath the skin surface (including tiny cancer blood vessels) which enables them to diagnose melanoma and other skin cancers at the very earliest possible stage, before they can be seen with the naked eye.
All Molecheck patients receive a thorough and comprehensive skin cancer and melanoma check. And as well as skin cancer detection, dermoscopy technology enables Molecheck doctors to confidently diagnose many types of benign growths, which avoids anxiety and unnecessary surgery.
Molecheck doctors aim to find any skin cancer at the first consultation. At this consultation, they may also treat pre-cancerous lesions with cryotherapy (also called cryosurgery). Some benign unsightly or unwanted spots, lumps and discolourations may also be able to be treated during the consultation.
Get to know your skin by checking it regularly— particularly if you are over 50, have a family history of skin cancer or have had any episodes of bad sunburn as a child. And if a spot has changed, becomes raised, is sore, itchy or scaly, or a new spot appears, it’s a good idea to get it Molechecked.
Find out more at or phone 03 355 5089 to make an appointment with the experienced team at Molecheck.