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.”

World Health Organisation launches 4th edition of Classification of Skin Tumours
31 Aug 2018

World Health Organisation launches 4th edition of Classification of Skin Tumours

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is releasing the 4th edition of Classification of Skin Tumours.

Professor John Thompson awarded prestigious 2018 RPA Foundation Research Medal
31 Aug 2018

Professor John Thompson awarded prestigious 2018 RPA Foundation Research Medal

Former Executive Director of Melanoma Institute Australia Professor John Thompson awarded the prestigious 2018 RPA Foundation Research Medal.

Support PBS listing for pembrolizumab
23 Aug 2018

Support PBS listing for pembrolizumab

Clinicians, patients and other stakeholders in the cancer community are invited to make submissions in support of the PBS listing for pembrolizumab.

World Congress on Cancers of the Skin 2018
17 Aug 2018

World Congress on Cancers of the Skin 2018

The World Congress on Cancers of the Skin 2018 has featured many minds from MIA sharing their expertise and wealth of knowledge with over 1000 attendees from around the world.

Melanoma Institute Australia welcomes new CEO Matthew Browne
09 Aug 2018

Melanoma Institute Australia welcomes new CEO Matthew Browne

Melanoma Institute Australia is delighted to announce the appointment of Matthew Browne as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Melanoma in Practice: Nurse Conference
26 Jul 2018

Melanoma in Practice: Nurse Conference

It was a full house this week at Melanoma Institute Australia thanks to our ‘Melanoma in Practice: Nurse Conference’. 

Reducing the risk of melanoma in young adults
19 Jul 2018

Reducing the risk of melanoma in young adults

A new study from The University of Sydney shows that sunscreen reduces melanoma risk by 40 per cent when used from a young age.

Melanoma Institute Australia launches free e-learning education portal
20 Jun 2018

Melanoma Institute Australia launches free e-learning education portal

Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) has launched a free e-learning portal to educate healthcare professionals about the latest advances in melanoma diagnosis and treatment.

David Day and a lifetime of missed moments
08 Jun 2018

David Day and a lifetime of missed moments

When David lost his life last year, he was 33, with three daughters under six.

Australian melanoma experts share latest breakthroughs with world's best oncologists
06 Jun 2018

Australian melanoma experts share latest breakthroughs with world's best oncologists

ASCO 2018 brings together the world's best in oncology from around the world. 

ASCO 2018 – the important role of clinical trials
06 Jun 2018

ASCO 2018 – the important role of clinical trials

Clinical trials are just that – trials in a clinical setting to evaluate the effectiveness or otherwise of individual and combination treatments.

MIA Scoops Awards at the International Academy of Pathology
04 Jun 2018

MIA Scoops Awards at the International Academy of Pathology

Melanoma Institute Australia scooped the award pool at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Academy of Pathology. 

Updated Clinical Guidelines for Melanoma
25 May 2018

Updated Clinical Guidelines for Melanoma

Melanoma patients across Australia will benefit from the release of updated clinical care guidelines.

Melanoma and Marital Status: A Study
11 May 2018

Melanoma and Marital Status: A Study

An American study has discovered a link between early detection and marital status in melanoma diagnosis. 

A weekend in Paris talking all things pathology...
02 May 2018

A weekend in Paris talking all things pathology...

An international course on melanoma pathology in Paris, France co-directed by Professor Richard Scolyer took place over the weekend.

Our own 'Australian Story'
30 Apr 2018

Our own 'Australian Story'

Professor Richard Scolyer highlights the difficulties of diagnosis following the Australian Story feature program on Emma Betts. 

Cancer Australia releases 'stage at diagnosis' data for top five incidence cancers – including melanoma
27 Apr 2018

Cancer Australia releases 'stage at diagnosis' data for top five incidence cancers – including melanoma

For the first time in Australia, national data has been released on cancer stage at diagnosis. This data explores the top five incidence cancers – female breast cancer, colorectal, lung, prostate cancers and melanoma.

The inspiring story of Emma Betts premieres on Australian Story
16 Apr 2018

The inspiring story of Emma Betts premieres on Australian Story

'Dear Emma' - a tribute to the life and times of a young woman determined to raise awareness about melanoma. 

Toyota helps tackle Australia's national cancer - melanoma
09 Apr 2018

Toyota helps tackle Australia's national cancer - melanoma

Carole Renouf, CEO for MIA thanks Toyota for helping fuel ongoing melanoma research.

Tackling the Kokoda Trail for melanoma
06 Apr 2018

Tackling the Kokoda Trail for melanoma

Fraser Dykes tackled the Kokoda Trail on an eight day trek in memory of his friend Mark 'Bod' Boddison.