Understanding Melanoma

Melanoma is a familiar word to most Australians

But it’s only when melanoma directly impacts our lives that we begin to understand the seriousness of this type of skin cancer.

Unfortunately, Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world. On average, 30 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma every day and more than 1,200 will die from the disease each year.

That’s why the team at Melanoma Institute Australia is committed to finding new ways to prevent, treat and promote awareness of this deadly disease.

The following information will help you gain a better understanding of melanoma, including what it is, how it’s diagnosed, the different stages of the disease, treatment options, real patient stories, and support available to those diagnosed with melanoma.

The irony of melanoma is that it is both the most deadly cancer and the easiest to treat when caught early. Melanoma arises most commonly from a mole-gone-wrong, and when spotted early, stage 1 melanoma can be treated completely simply by removing it. But if it goes undetected or unreported and spreads to other areas of the body it becomes very dangerous.

Why a common mole can turn into melanoma is not entirely understood. But there is a clear and resounding link to overexposure to sunlight. And a pattern of sunburns coupled with other relative risk factors such as complexion and family history can add up to greater risk for some people and less risk for others. But it’s unequivocal that the best protection is prevention by practicing sun safety and early detection with regular skin checks – both easy to do with a little know-how.

Historically, treatment options for melanoma that had progressed past stage 2 were very limited. These days, though, the story is changing thanks in part to the work of Melanoma Institute Australia. With exciting discoveries in the area of targeted drug therapies and refined staging techniques melanoma patients now have new options and more hopeful outcomes.