The Lions Cancer Institute (WA) Inc. is a project of the Lions Clubs of Western Australia and was formed in 1989. Incorporated in 1990 it became affiliated with the University of Western Australia in 1994 and in 1996 in association with The Cancer Research Institute formed the Centre for Applied Cancer Studies at the University of Western Australia.
The Lions Cancer Institute (WA) Inc. laboratories were initially located in the Infectious Diseases Transportable located off Moore Street Perth WA.
The Institute later moved to the Medical Research Foundation building at 50 Murray Street Perth on completion of the building then to Park Lane, part of the original University of Western Australia campus. The Institute’s offices then relocated to Oasis Lotteries House Unit 7, 37 Hampden Road, Nedlands. Laboratories were housed in the Department of Pharmacology on the UWA, Nedlands campus.
Initial funding came through Lions Clubs and from a group named The Friends of the Lions Cancer Institute. They were formed to raise funds towards cancer research in association with the Lions Cancer Institute (WA) Inc.
The Lions Cancer Institute (WA) Inc. is involved in two major projects, one is the Free Skin Cancer screening the core of which is our state-wide Skin Screening Program. These free screenings are carried out by Institute staff, who are all volunteers, supported by members of the West Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons and The Australian Society of Dermatologists, Doctors, Dermoscopists, Nurses, Science Graduates, Board Members and Lions Club members.
The Project is credited with not only saving lives since its inception but also of saving the public health system millions of dollars on the care of patients dying from undiagnosed skin cancers.
The program first started with an ad-hoc screening in Muckinbudin in 1990 where a team screened two hundred persons with approximately 5% referral rate. The screening has continued operating and has screened over 75,000 persons in Western Australia with an average referral rate of 28.4% (Figure as at 2018). Some 1,300 plus of those patients had a preliminary diagnosis which involved a possible life-threatening lesion(s). (Figure as at 2018).
In 2006 the Institute was approached by the Royal flying Doctor Service in WA to run a joint venture program with their ‘On the Road’ service teams providing skin cancer screening to more remote areas. Results in all of these areas show a need for such a screening service. Funding for those extended trips was provided by Regional Development Commissions, Royalties for Region and Mining Companies, however a change in the management structure of the RFDS saw the ‘on the road program’ discontinued.
The South Australian Lions now have a mobile skin screening program similar in operation to that in WA, operating in South Australia and Northern Territory. The legal identity under which the SA program operates is the Lions Medical Research Foundation (LMRF), an agreement exists between the Lions Cancer Institute (WA) Inc. and LMRF ensuring the protocols and staff training established over many years is maintained.
Current volunteer staffing levels and Lions donations restricts the screenings per year and details of planned screenings are shown on our screening roster page. We receive requests for up to 40 screenings per year, many of which are from locations previously visited, and on most occasions, appointments available (i.e. 100 per day) are filled well ahead of time.
The early part of the program was targeted at developing ‘at risk’ criteria for advocating the need for screening. The criteria are continually tested and where the patient does not meet the criteria the referral rate is less than 5%. Use of the ‘at risk criteria’, if applied correctly, has continually produced referral rates of 39 % plus, the average referral rate is 27.4%.
The protocols the service operate under do not include any treatments, formal diagnosis or prognosis, patients found with suspect lesions are given referrals to their nominated General Practitioner for further investigation.
Mobile Screening Units
The first mobile screening unit was launched in August 2002 a caravan consisting of three fully equipped screening booths offering both audio and visual privacy, equipped with magnification scopes and cameras, good lighting, a small office area and an annex for reception. The unit is towed by a light truck fitted with a generator and potable water supply.
The second mobile screening unit is a converted 12.5m coach with similar facilities, generator, water tanks etc. are in bins below, both units are equipped to accommodate four passengers plus the driver however many of the screeners may elect to find their own way to the screening locations.
The second project is to support PhD and Honors students. studying in cancer areas via a Grant process administered through the Karen & Joshua Chinnery Memorial Scholarship. Since inception the Lions Cancer Institute (WA) Inc. Board has been involved in the ‘top up’ financial support of these students. Our early Honors students Heather Williams and Sarah Dye used data collected from the completed screenings as the basis for their.
Theses and four papers were published from this data. In addition, data from the screening clinics was used in an Honors project by Heather Williams.
To date six PhD and three Honors Students have successfully completed their studies and the Institute has provided support funding to the prominent Liver Cancer Researcher in WA, Prof George Yeoh.
The Challenge for the Future
Since formation of the Institute in 1989 the aim of the board has remained focused. Progress towards our final goals has been slow however we believe that the Board’s decision to support both PhD and Honors students who are our future scientists will assist the Institute in meeting the following challenges:
- The Lions Cancer Institute (WA) Inc. mobile service which would be a full-time service to rural regions staffed by trained Volunteers who will when required be able to access specialist opinions via telemedicine.
- To offer Training courses in the Diagnosis and Assessment of Skin Cancer for GPs, Nurses and other selected applicants and are available by contacting the Institute.
- As aforementioned the program is now operating in South Australia, Northern territory and is being investigated in Victoria and New Zealand through the Lions Organisation all under the banner of the Western Australian Lions Cancer Institute (WA) Inc.
Skin damage can not be reversed: only further damage can be prevented.
They can be any colour, Red, White, Blue, Grey or a combination of colours and most start flat.
There is no age limit
The life time risk factors for 20-40 year old in Australia is 1 in 18.