An online test that can predict the likelihood of developing skin cancer has been developed by scientists in Australia.

Designed for people age 40 and over, the test asks the respondents questions about risk factors such as age, gender, ability to tan, sunscreen use, hair color and the number of moles they had by age 21 — all to assess the chances of developing melanoma.

Based on how they answer the questions, the respondents will be placed into one of five categories ranging from those that are “very much above average risk" to those “very much below average risk" for developing skin cancer within the next three and a half years.

Currently, the developers believe that the test is 70 percent accurate — higher than similar tools designed to diagnose bowel and breast cancer, according to the researchers. Yet, developers hope to improve accuracy with the addition of DNA data from blood analysis. Developers envision patients eventually being able to take the test at their general practitioner’s office in combination with providing a blood sample.

“This tool is about helping people understand what their risk is and if they’re at very high risk, then they may need to talk to their doctor about having their skin checked more regularly just in case there are any early melanomas that can be picked up before they’ve spread,” said co-developer David Whiteman of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

To take the test, click here.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com