News in brief: Caution over ‘low risk’ light devices for skin care; Melanoma genomic study identifies two areas linked to survival; More specialists are using My Health Record

Tuesday, 12 Apr 2022


Caution over ‘low risk’ light devices for skin care

Radiation scientists have expressed concern about increasing unregulated use of cosmetic devices that use non-ionising radiation (NIR) such as high-emission cosmetic lasers and intense pulsed light devices for epilation, skin rejuvenation and mild acne.

Staff at the Radiation Health Services Branch, Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) say there has been little research done into the health risks of NIR devices that are becoming widely used with little or no regulation in Australia.

While promoted as ‘low risk’ treatments, these devices always result in high NIR exposure to targeted tissue in order to ensure efficacy of treatment, they note.

“Consequently, there is always a risk of adverse health effects from these procedures, which may be temporary or longer lasting,” they say in Public Health Research and Practice.

Given the possible risks associated with cosmetic NIR procedures and inconsistent oversight across Australia, clinicians and consumers should refer to the national advice published by ARPANSA for cosmetic treatments using lasers, intense pulsed light devices and light-emitting diode phototherapy, they advise.


Melanoma genomic study identifies two areas linked to survival

Two genetic loci associated with melanoma survival have been identified by researchers at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane.

Using data from 5762 patients treated at the Melanoma Institute Australia and more than 5200 melanoma patients from the UK Biobank study, researchers conducted  genome-wide association studies that found two independent, novel, genome-wide significant loci for melanoma-specific survival.

The findings in medrxiv also showed that that increased genetic susceptibility for cutaneous melanoma, as measured by increase in a polygenic risk score susceptibility, was significantly associated with improved melanoma survival.

The study investigators said their findings would need to be confirmed in larger studies, but highlighted the potential clinical utility of polygenic risk score susceptibility for profiling and monitoring patients for melanoma outcomes following diagnosis during the “melanoma follow-up care program.”

“In combination with other prognostic factors, it could be used to guide patient care e.g. counselling on modification of mortality related non-genetic behaviours and lifestyle factors, or guide the direction of patient-specific treatment to help improve survival after diagnosis,” they wrote.

“It may also be useful for the stratification of patients while recruiting into clinical trials evaluating melanoma treatment and outcomes,” they added.


More specialists are using My Health Record

Use of My Health Record by specialists has increased since it became accessible through clinical software in late 2021, according to the Australian Digital Health Agency.

Its latest figures for February 2022 show that 20% of specialists have registered for the MHR and 9% have used it. In comparison 95% of public hospitals and 98% of GPs have used the MHR. While the specialist usage levels are still low, they increased by 17% in January 2022, the Agency says, and the number of documents uploaded by specialists and viewed by other healthcare providers increased by 23%.

Public hospital viewing of MHR had doubled in the last year, it noted.

The Agency said the increase likely reflects the increasing proportion of clinical software products that are compatible with the MHR and have the discharge summaries and reports for diagnostic imaging and pathology.

Ongoing funding for the Agency was confirmed in the 2022 Budget, which noted total expenditure of almost $380 million for 2021–2022. The Agency was given a target of increasing provider use of the MHR by 15% a year and a 20% increase in e-prescribing.

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