Early lymph node check is saving lives in melanoma patients
19 October 2017
Research presented this week at the 9th World Congress of Melanoma supports the updated guideline recommendation that sentinel lymph node biopsy be performed in more patients newly diagnosed with melanoma, as it has the potential to save lives due to the information the procedure provides.
This biopsy, which looks for cancer cells in the lymph nodes, can identify patients whose melanoma has spread beyond the site on the skin (Stage III melanoma) and who may be suitable to receive the new generation of anti-melanoma drugs.
The recently published Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Melanoma recommends that “sentinel lymph node biopsy should be considered for all patients with melanoma greater than 1 mm in thickness and for patients with melanoma greater than 0.8 mm with other high risk pathological features to provide optimal staging and prognostic information and to maximise management options for patients who are node positive”.
“We know patients who have melanoma cells present in their draining lymph nodes (Stage III) are up to three times more likely to die from their melanoma than patients where the lymph nodes are clear,” says David Gyorki, a consultant surgeon and melanoma specialist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
“For some time, we’ve known that sentinel lymph node biopsy is an excellent way to identify those patients who have a higher risk of having their disease progress, and with the new drugs we have gained the tools to respond and to reduce this risk.
“On the horizon, we will have access to effective, well tolerated drug therapies that can reduce the risk of relapse and, using sentinel lymph node biopsy to identify appropriate patients, the data indicate that this strategy is saving lives.”
For most patients diagnosed with melanoma, their disease is localised and effectively treated with surgery; however, some patients’ disease will progress. Of the 14,000 Australians diagnosed with melanoma each year, almost 15% will die from their disease.
Findings from recent clinical trials have demonstrated a major improvement in survival for patients with Stage III melanoma using drug therapy after surgery with the aim to prevent the melanoma from appearing in distant organs (Stage IV disease).
In one such clinical trial, known as COMBI-AD, patients who received a combination of targeted therapies (dabrafenib and trametinib) decreased the chance of their melanoma progressing by 53% compared to the current standard therapy of ‘watch and wait’.
“We encourage clinicians to inform their patients about sentinel lymph node biopsy so that patients can properly understand their risk of recurrence and death from melanoma, and therefore discuss the option of further drug therapy” says Professor Georgina Long, Medical Oncologist and Co-Medical Director of Melanoma Institute Australia.
The 9th World Congress of Melanoma is underway in Brisbane, October 18 – 21.
SAVE THE DATE:
Federal government urged
We want to thank every member of Team Melanoma and everyone who donated to them. With your help, we are moving closer to our goal of zero deaths from melanoma!
Lauren O'Brien tells us why she's running for a cause close to her heart
MIA could not do what we do without the incredible support and effort of our community fundraisers. We’d like to highlight some of the wonderful events organised by our community in
An international study, led by researchers from Melanoma Institute Australia, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and The University of Sydney as part of the Australian Melanoma Genome Project, has discovered that a drug traditionally used to treat a
Researchers from Melanoma Institute Australia took centre stage at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago. Results presented by MIA’s contingent have the potential to create better patient outcomes and change the way advanced melanoma
Today is International Clinical Trials Day – a day to recognise and thank the amazing people who conduct, organise, and coordinate clinical trials.
“I’m the age Emma was when she passed away. It almost feels
As always, part of the PBAC process invites clinicians, patients and other stakeholders in the cancer community to make submissions
As always, part of the PBAC process invites clinicians, patients and other stakeholders in the cancer community to make submissions in support of the PBS listing.
MIA had four winners in the 2017 Premiers Awards. Find out how winning has influenced their work over the past year.
Cancer Council awards Melanoma Institute Australia researchers funding for ground-breaking cancer research projects
Almost $9 million of new funding was awarded to 13 ground-breaking cancer research projects at the 2019 Cancer Council NSW Research Awards.
Georgina V. Long is co-medical director of Melanoma Institute Australia and Chair of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Translational Research. She is the first woman president of the Society for Melanoma Research.
Quintessential Aussie girl and media personality Sophie Monk has been announced as a National Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign, Melanoma March.
Australian researchers have for the first time identified specific cells and receptors in the immune system which predict how a patient will respond to treatment with immunotherapies, potentially paving the way for the development of personalised therapy for all cancer patients.
Melanoma March is thrilled to introduce Ricky as our official Principal Partner for 2019!
World record holder, Olympian and Australian swimming champion Cate Campbell has been announced as National Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign, Melanoma March.
MIA's expertise was essential to a recent Nature publication spearheaded by Perth’s Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Melbourne.
MIA is delighted to be hosting the MD Anderson pathologist on his first ever trip to Australia.