Melanoma under 40

Melanoma under 40

By Carole Renouf

17 November 2016

I spent a morning in clinic with one of MIA’s surgeons about a month ago. As each of her patients arrived, she inquired whether they would mind the CEO sitting in on their appointment because the  CEO wanted to learn more about the experience of patients. Every single patient consented to having me present. They ranged from old to young, male to female, early to advanced melanoma and it was very moving for me to spend some time with them as they received everything from the worst news to the best. All the people with melanoma I met that day have stayed with me, but none more so than the young ones (under 40). It was the statistic that melanoma is the most common cancer in 15-39 year old Australians that really persuaded me to take this job.

A few years ago, when I was in a previous role, one of my proudest initiatives was the work we did reaching out to young women, those who got breast cancer in their 20s and 30s.

The impact of cancer on young lives is ferocious and wide-ranging. This is not to diminish in any way its significant impact on older lives, but when you are under 40 the experience of cancer tends to take more away across more aspects of your life and over a longer time. Also, as cancer services tend to be geared towards older people, you are likely to find less help and support suited to your needs and life stage.

The qualitative research that was done into breast cancer in young women revealed that the disease, diagnosis and treatment impacted issues as critical as future employment and career, finances, fertility, relationships and sexuality and self-image. If you would like to see footage from the press conference with affected young women, click here.

To my knowledge, no such research has yet been done in melanoma in Australia. Melanoma is the most common cause of cancer death in 20-39 year olds. In contrast to breast cancer, melanoma strikes both men and women (slightly more men) and therefore must assuredly involve additional issues to breast cancer. Yet, there is no body of evidence as to what these are, nor how to address them.

As we head towards 2017, I have set myself the goal of gathering the evidence from young Australians affected by melanoma of its impact on their lives and of any unmet needs they may have. This may mean a shift in the way we and others provide services.

For example, over 90% of melanoma – if caught early – is curable through surgery, so surgery remains a dominant treatment modality. A famous surgeon once said, “If you can’t cut it out, it’s not real” - yet studies show that psychosocial distress is very real in at least 30% of melanoma patients and I suspect even more real in the young. So is there an unmet need for more psychosocial support for under 40s affected by melanoma, for example?

If you’d like to share your experience and help me gather the evidence about the impact of melanoma on young Australians, please contact us at projectyoung@melanoma.org.au for a personal interview. Your contribution would be greatly appreciated.

Professor Richard Scolyer recognised in The Pathologist's 2020 Power List.
03 Aug 2020

Professor Richard Scolyer recognised in The Pathologist's 2020 Power List.

For the 2nd consecutive year, MIA's Co-Medical Director Professor Richard Scolyer has been selected in the top 100 best, brightest, and most powerful advocates of pathology by The Pathologist.

Tags: melanoma
Important Update: Masks required at Poche Centre
24 Jul 2020

Important Update: Masks required at Poche Centre

As of Monday 27th July all patients and carers/family members coming into The Poche Centre will be required to bring their own mask. 

Tags: melanoma
A Critical Nexus:The Clinician and the Researcher.
14 Jul 2020

A Critical Nexus:The Clinician and the Researcher.

In a recent issue of Cancer Cell journal, Prof Georgina Long AO and Prof Richard Scolyer discuss the challenge of bringing together clinical work and scientific research to underpin successful cancer research.    

Tags: melanoma
New online calculator launched to determine risk of spread of melanoma
15 Jun 2020

New online calculator launched to determine risk of spread of melanoma

Clinicians around the world now have access to a new online calculator that predicts the risk that a patient’s primary melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Tags: melanoma
Queen's Birthday Honour for Professor Georgina Long
08 Jun 2020

Queen's Birthday Honour for Professor Georgina Long

Professor Long has been appointed as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia (General Division) for  distinguished service to medicine, particularly, to melanoma clinical and translational research, and to professional medical societies. 

Tags: melanoma
Danny's inspiring survival story
30 May 2020

Danny's inspiring survival story

“I had a complete response within about six months. All of my tumours disappeared."

Tags: melanoma
MIA in the spotlight at ASCO virtual conference
30 May 2020

MIA in the spotlight at ASCO virtual conference

‘We are extremely proud of our ongoing contribution to the global effort to save lives from melanoma, with Dr Silva’s prestigious award proof that we continue to lead the way,'

Tags: melanoma
Professor Richard Scolyer achieves h-index of 100
26 May 2020

Professor Richard Scolyer achieves h-index of 100

MIA's Co-Medical Director, Professor Richard Scolyer, has achieved a Google Scholar h-index of 100.

How we connected at Melanoma March Virtual 2020
21 Apr 2020

See how we connected at Melanoma March Virtual 2020

We know what Melanoma March means to our community, so when we had to cancel our physical events, we created Melanoma March Virtual so that everyone across Australia could still connect to honour loved ones and support each other.

Melanoma meets its match.
07 Apr 2020

Melanoma meets its match.

A must-read personal account by Garry Maddox in The Sydney Morning Herald of how immunotherapy is revolutionising melanoma treatment.  

 

Next Steps for National Screening Program for Melanoma
23 Mar 2020

Next Steps for National Screening Program for Melanoma

On Friday, a publication that lays out the steps needed to find out if a systematic screening program for melanoma would benefit all Australians was published in the Australia & New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Melanoma March Update
13 Mar 2020

Melanoma March Update

Melanoma March events have been cancelled. A Virtual March will be held on Sunday 29th March. Read this statement from MIA CEO Matthew Browne.   

Saving lives this summer: 'Game On Mole!'
11 Mar 2020

Saving lives this summer: 'Game On Mole!'

Thank you to the thousands of Aussies who bought ‘Game On Mole‘ t-shirts, took selfies, shared t-shirt pics on social media and started lifesaving conversations around sun safety and skin health.

PBS boost for melanoma patients
01 Mar 2020

PBS boost for melanoma patients

Melanoma patients now have greater access to subsidised immunotherapy thanks to additional treatments today being listed on the PBS.

An open letter to all young Australians
25 Feb 2020

An open letter to all young Australians

Brisbane couple Leon and Tamra Betts were, like thousands of others around Australia, on the couch watching MAFS when newlywed Natasha ran through her weekly beauty routine. When they heard the 26-year-old mention solarium use, they were shocked, and then saddened, prompting this open letter to all young Australians.

MIA leads world-class skin tumour pathology conference
14 Feb 2020

MIA leads world-class skin tumour pathology conference

Professor Richard Scolyer, Co-Medical Director of Melanoma Institute Australia, will welcome international attendees this weekend to a sold-out, two-day course on ‘Pigmented Lesions and Other Hot Topics in Dermatopathology’.

MAFS, it is time for a reality check on solariums.
07 Feb 2020

MAFS, it is time for a reality check on solariums.

It is time for a reality check on solariums.
They have no place in anyone’s beauty routine.

Community Fundraising January Wrap-Up
07 Feb 2020

Community Fundraising January Wrap-Up

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.

Kyly Clarke urges Aussies to step up to save lives from melanoma
03 Feb 2020

Kyly Clarke urges Aussies to step up to save lives 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.

Improving support for our patients across Australia.
03 Feb 2020

Improving support for our patients across Australia.

Melanoma Institute Australia has recently partnered with three other organisations to boost support for melanoma patients and their carers across Australia.