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.
Throughout January our community created, hosted and participated in some amazing events, each of them helping us on our quest to reach zero deaths from melanoma.
Australian television presenter, interior designer and mother Kyly Clarke has been announced as the new Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign Melanoma March.
Melanoma Institute Australia has recently partnered with three other organisations to boost support for melanoma patients and their carers across Australia.
Melanoma patients and their families across Western Australia will benefit from strengthened and expanded services with the merging of melanomaWA and Melanoma Institute Australia.
Australian researchers have played a critical role in the discovery of a potential new test to predict which early stage melanoma patients are at high risk of their disease recurring and progressing.
We are extremely grateful for our community fundraisers, who, even in this difficult time, have given up their time and effort to fundraise so we can continue to work towards our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.
Melanoma patients are set to benefit from subsidised access to immunotherapy treatment for high risk early-stage and advanced-stage melanoma patients.
An informative article on how immunotherapy is revolutionising cancer treatment, written by Jill Margo and featured in the Australian Financial Review.
Melanoma patients and their families in the Riverina will benefit from strengthened and sustained melanoma services with the merger of the Amie St Clair Melanoma Trust and Melanoma Institute Australia.
Belmont High School at Lake Macquarie has been announced winner of the 2019 SunSafe Student Ambassador Program video competition.
It’s time again to say thank you to our amazing community fundraisers!
Videos of the sessions at the recent Patient Information Evening co-hosted by Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA) are now available for viewing.
MIA is well-represented in the poster sessions at the Society for Melanoma Research 2019 Congress in the USA, with four poster presentations being given by members of our translational research lab.
Professor Georgina Long has today opened the Society for Melanoma Research 2019 Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah.
MIA’s Co-Medical Directors, Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer, have both been named Highly Cited Researchers, according to the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers 2019 list.
Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA) and Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) have announced a new multi-year agreement to provide enhanced support services for melanoma patients nationally.
It is time again to say thank you to our incredible community fundraisers who are helping us get closer to our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.
MIA has presented promising data regarding progression-free survival rates for advanced melanoma patients at the ESMO 2019 Congress in Barcelona.
Another month has flown by and yet again we have a host of amazing community fundraisers who generously gave up their time to help us reach our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.