Australian melanoma rates take the silver – and that's good news
31 March 2016
The average risk of melanoma in Australia may have peaked in 2005 while New Zealand's rates of melanoma have risen to be the highest globally. However, Australia's burden of melanoma might stay very high over the next 15 years as the population ages. MIA Research Director Professor Mann explains.
A new study by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, one of MIA’s research affiliates, has examined melanoma rates in six different countries and used current trends to predict how they will change in coming years.
The latest data from cancer registries are from 2011. In the five years prior to that, 50 cases of melanoma occurred per 100,000 people in New Zealand while in Australia the rates fell slightly from our world-leading position in 2002-06, to 48 cases per 100,000 in 2011. Researchers predict a peak incidence of about 51 in New Zealand by 2016-2017; while in Australia rates should continue to edge down from a peak of about 49 in 2005.
Why is this happening?
The main clue is that rates of melanoma in young and middle aged Australian adults peaked in the early 2000s. This is good news because it shows that our awareness, prevention and sun protection work, especially with children in recent decades, is reaping benefits that will clearly continue in decades to come. In New Zealand the same impact has been seen in the young, but the rise of melanoma in older people has been stronger and harder to stop.
The down side of these results is that the sun exposure “banked” by people who grew up in the 1920s-1950s is still being converted into skin cancer and melanoma, especially as these generations are living longer. The total number of cases of melanoma will probably stay steady in Australia until the 2030s, but in New Zealand it is predicted to grow another 25% over 2011 levels.
So we have all been doing a pretty good job of holding this epidemic at bay, but we need to work harder with Australians over 50 (like me!). These age groups missed out on sun smart campaigns as youngsters and UV radiation has already damaged their skin badly. However, we know that our risk of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer is driven by the total dose of UV that we get throughout our life, not just when we were young. So, just as it is never too late to stop smoking, every year of good sun protection helps undo the damage done before.
Dedicated and increased prevention efforts to reduce unnecessary UV exposure remains our key weapon to fight melanoma in the future. It would be great to show by 2030 that these predictions of melanoma rates in older Australians for the 2020s were too pessimistic.
MIA's doctors are converging on Chicago this week along with 40,000 delegates from around the globe at the biggest oncology conference in the world.
We are pleased to announce a recent expansion to the dermatology services at Melanoma Institute Australia.
This International Clinical Trials Day we reflect on the importance of clinical trials and the people who dedicate their lives to helping melanoma patients today and in the future.
MIA has launched its first eBook Melanoma Essentials – A Concise Guide, a resource for GPs and other medical, nursing and allied professionals to help them effectively diagnose and manage cases.
Dr Scot Ebbinghaus chats to us about an exciting clinical trial at MIA and where melanoma treatment is headed in the future.
A new melanoma treatment has been listed on the PBS today, giving another option for advanced melanoma patients.
MIA's Pathology Fellow Dr Louise Jackett tells us why she's joined our fellowship program to learn from the best.
MIA doctors and patient have featured in the final episode of ABC’s ground-breaking series Keeping Australia Alive.
Specialist dermatologists at MIA are researching moles during pregnancy and we are looking for study recruits.
New research is re-writing the textbooks on what we know about melanoma by highlighting the effectiveness of radiotherapy as a treatment, reversing a long-held belief that melanoma was resistant to radiotherapy.
However, Australia's burden of melanoma will stay very high over the next 15 years unless we do more. MIA's Professor Graham Mann explains.
Thank you to everyone involved in making Melanoma March 2016 a huge success
Melanoma March 2016 has officially begun with more than 300 people marching in Rockingham and Devonport.
MIA's new CEO Carole Renouf has been in her role only a month, but is already making plans for the future of MIA.
In the wake of Susie Maroney's recent announcement that she is battling melanoma, CEO Carole Renouf's opinion piece weighs in on the critical need we have in Australia to raise awareness about melanoma.
MIA's Georgina Long has been appointed Professor and awarded a coverted prize in medial research.
Melanoma March 2016 funding will be used to initiate an ambitious new project that will support the best possible care for melanoma patients around Australia through a new data and communication platform.
New research shows long-term survival in group of advanced melanoma patients treated with BRAF inhibitors
New MIA-led research has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Melanoma March was officially launched today with the announcement of the national research project funded by the march.
Clinical research undertaken at MIA has been pivotal in supporting the recent Therapeutic Goods Administration approval of Opdivo (nivolumab) for advanced melanoma.