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.”
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
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.
'Dear Emma' - a tribute to the life and times of a young woman determined to raise awareness about melanoma.
Carole Renouf, CEO for MIA thanks Toyota for helping fuel ongoing melanoma research.
Fraser Dykes tackled the Kokoda Trail on an eight day trek in memory of his friend Mark 'Bod' Boddison.
Harvard’s Clinical Professor Martin Mihm and MIA’s Conjoint Medical Director Professor Richard Scoyler delivered a series of lectures on melanoma pathology in Vancouver, British Colombia this week at the world’s biggest annual pathology meeting.
A round of applause for a well deserved win.
A message from our CEO, Carole Renouf
Piction, Brisbane, Bahturst and Port Macquarie march to end melanoma.
Australian researchers have greater clarity on the best course of treatment for patients with advanced melanoma which has spread to the brain.
Melanoma treatment has come a long way in recent times, and the role that nurses play caring for melanoma patients has changed dramatically too.
It was a massive weekend of Melanoma Marches with six Marches in: Bendigo, Canberra, Manly, Newcastle, Bunbury and Adelaide.
Weekend two hit the ground marching with Melanoma Marches in Wollongong, Townsville, Mandurah and Western Sydney.
Melanoma Institute Australia's annual fundraising initiative is all systems go!
The reported proliferation of illegal commercial solariums is costing lives and requires urgent government intervention.
15-year-old melanoma survivor Toby Rayner will lead Mount Gambier’s march against melanoma Julie-Ann Sams knows all too well that melanoma doesn’t discriminate.
Updated guidelines defining appropriate excision margins have been published thanks to research from MIA.
Joanne and her trusty companion Frankie spend their days spreading a message of hope in hospitals, nursing homes, even prisons. It is a long way from her darkest hour facing palliative care. This is her story of hope.
Melanoma impacts more Australian teenagers and young adults than any other cancer. Dr James Wilmott, who has a young family of his own, has devoted his career to determining why these young Australians are susceptible to melanoma, and importantly, how to save them.