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 email@example.com for a personal interview. Your contribution would be greatly appreciated.
Melanoma Institute Australia scooped the award pool at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Academy of Pathology.
Melanoma patients across Australia will benefit from the release of updated clinical care guidelines.
An American study has discovered a link between early detection and marital status in melanoma diagnosis.
An international course on melanoma pathology in Paris, France co-directed by Professor Richard Scolyer took place over the weekend.
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.