Celebrating 60 years of melanoma research to save lives

Celebrating 60 Years of melanoma research to save lives

19 April 2017

Melanoma Institute Australia is proud to be celebrating an important milestone – the 60th anniversary of melanoma research and Australian-led global efforts to find a cure.

It was back in 1957 when Sydney Hospital recorded its first data on a melanoma patient. This patient record marked the beginning of what was to become the Melanoma Research Database (MRD), which is now the biggest database of its kind in the world. With more than 41,000 patient records, the MRD continues to play a vital role in underpinning the ground-breaking work of Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and around the world.

“Melanoma used to be viewed as a disease with a dismal outlook for patients, but I am pleased to say that today things are much different,” said Professor Richard Scolyer, MIA’s Conjoint Medical Director. “The foresight of our colleagues at Sydney Hospital to start recording patient data back in 1957 set us on a path towards greater understanding of the disease, and we are now leading the world in advancing melanoma treatment and research.”

“Life expectancy for advanced melanoma patients has tripled in the last five years, and we are even seeing some patients who are recovering fully,” comments Professor Georgina Long, MIA’s Conjoint Medical Director. “However we still have a long way to go, with one Australian dying from melanoma every six hours.”

Critical to our story is the work of Professor Gerry Milton (pictured) of the Sydney Melanoma Unit (now Melanoma Institute Australia) who in 1968 was trying to better understand the disease. He recruited Dr Helen Shaw to collect and collate all the records of melanoma patients treated at Sydney Hospital over the previous decade. Always forward thinking, the Unit decided to embrace the “high technology” of the day and convert the entire patient catalogue to punch cards – and so the database was born. The detailed patient records included diagnosis, treatment and disease course over time.

The MRD database is now managed by a team including IT specialists and clinical data managers, dedicated to its refinement, preservation and cultivation. It serves as an invaluable resource to identify and extract specific sub-sets of information for research projects related to causes, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment outcomes in melanoma patients. The knowledge gained from these studies assists in the management of melanoma patients around the world.

“We celebrate this Diamond Anniversary with much gratitude to our professional predecessors for their pioneering work that was way ahead of its time. We also have immense appreciation for those thousands of melanoma patients who over the last 60 years have allowed their clinical records to be included in our research database which have enabled us to improve the lives of melanoma patients that have followed them,” Professor Scolyer said.

“They have quite literally given the gift of life to other melanoma patients, and will be the unsung heroes when we finally achieve our goal of ending melanoma.”

Comparing melanoma risk in similar populations across different latitudes
20 Oct 2017

Comparing melanoma risk in similar populations across different latitudes

MIA's epidemiologist explains her new research on how country of residence should be considered when identifying melanoma risk.

Congratulations to our Conjoint Medical Directors
19 Oct 2017

Congratulations to our Conjoint Medical Directors

Congratulations to our Conjoint Medical Directors, Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer, who have today been announced as Fellows of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

What causes melanoma in 90% of young Australians?
19 Oct 2017

What causes melanoma in 90% of young Australians?

New research shows potentially deadly UV damage can appear decades earlier than you think.

Early lymph node check is saving lives in melanoma patients
19 Oct 2017

Early lymph node check is saving lives in melanoma patients

Early lymph node check is saving lives in melanoma patients

Congratulations to Associate Professor Anne Cust
13 Oct 2017

Congratulations to Associate Professor Anne Cust

We are pleased to announce that A/Prof Anne Cust is the new President of the Australasian Epidemiological Association.

Smoking linked to increased risk of melanoma spreading
12 Oct 2017

Smoking linked to increased risk of melanoma spreading

New research has shown that melanoma patients who smoke have an increased risk of their disease progressing compared to patients who do not smoke.

Research boost to improve outcomes for melanoma patients
11 Oct 2017

Research boost to improve outcomes for melanoma patients

More than $3.5 million in competitive funding grants have been awarded to MIA's researchers.

Highlights in melanoma research from ESMO
21 Sep 2017

Highlights in melanoma research from ESMO

The ESMO conference provided a platform for announcing a number of key melanoma research findings - including practice-changing research from MIA.

Australian researchers stopping melanoma in its tracks
11 Sep 2017

Australian researchers stopping melanoma in its tracks

Australian researchers have successfully trialled a combination of new treatments to prevent melanoma from spreading to distant organs.

Virus-antibody combo shows promise for treating advanced melanoma
08 Sep 2017

Virus-antibody combo shows promise for treating advanced melanoma

A new treatment that combines an antibody with a cancer-killing virus improves outcomes for patients with advanced melanoma, an international clinical trial has shown.

Founding father recognised for outstanding cancer care
30 Aug 2017

Founding father recognised for outstanding cancer care

Professor William McCarthy AM has been recognised for his contributions to cancer care by being awarded the Tom Reeve Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cancer Care.

It's time to outlaw sunburn on reality TV shows - enough is enough
31 Jul 2017

It's time to outlaw sunburn on reality TV shows - enough is enough

It feels like groundhog day - another reality TV show, another batch of blatantly sunburnt contestants.

Identifying markers for optimal response
28 Jul 2017

Identifying markers for optimal response

Wouldn’t it be great if your doctor could know if you would respond to treatment before you even had it?

Global Melanoma Research Report - July
20 Jul 2017

Global Melanoma Research Report - July

In our latest research update we showcase research in survival estimates, uncover biomarkers, and reveal practice-changing research in surgery and medical oncology.

A day in the life of... Sarah Lane
14 Jul 2017

A day in the life of... Sarah Lane

Senior Clinical Trial Coordinators, like Sarah Lane, support melanoma patients throughout the clinical trial process. 

Differentiating moles from melanoma
14 Jul 2017

Differentiating moles from melanoma

Melanomas are often hard to differentiate from moles. But new technology is helping to improve accuracy of diagnosis.

Introducing SunSense Sunscreen
11 Jul 2017

Introducing SunSense Sunscreen

We are excited to announce that SunSense will proudly be an official supporter of Melanoma Institute Australia. SunSense is an Australian, family owned business. 

Identifying hidden melanoma
07 Jul 2017

Identifying hidden melanoma

New MIA research revealed dermoscopy features that can help detect desmoplastic melanoma.

60 Minutes' MIA Patient Feature Program
04 Jul 2017

60 Minutes' MIA Patient Feature Program

Five years ago Julie Randall was diagnosed with melanoma and was given months to live. The melanoma had spread throughout her body. The doctors said it was incurable and she’d be lucky if she survived the next nine months. Julie, a patient at Melanoma Institute Australia under Professor Georgina Long was placed on an experimental drug trial. To watch the entire program, visit 9now.com or click here

Training our future melanoma experts
22 Jun 2017

Training our future melanoma experts

Meet our latest Surgical Oncology Fellow, Eva Nagy, to find out more about life as a surgical oncologist, why she came to MIA and what she hopes to achieve.