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, is joining forces with the Wollongong Wolves Football Club in the battle to reduce Australia’s melanoma rates.
A new research project will evaluate the benefits and economic implications of CT and PET/CT imaging in patients with asymptomatic Stage III melanoma.
Sunscreen tips for a skin smart summer with the help of Professor Pascale Guitera, Dermatologist Associate for Melanoma Institute Australia.
Although survival rates for people with skin melanoma are increasing, these promises of hope are not being seen in uveal melanoma. Researchers are desperately trying to uncover new ways to treat this disease.
Lucinda Ryan and Carole Renouf talking about melanoma preventation and awareness on 720 ABC Perth.
Research projects led by MIA have been awarded almost $6 million in the latest NHMRC funding round which will enable vital progression of research into melanoma prevention and treatment.
The last decade has seen a surge in therapeutic options for advanced melanoma patients, thanks to research. However, not every patient responds to treatment and researchers are taking on the challenge to find out why.
Our first Global Melanoma Research Report shares selected research from around the world and here at MIA that is making a difference to the lives of melanoma patients now and in the future.
After 18 years as Director of the Sydney Melanoma Unit and then Executive Director of Melanoma Institute Australia, Professor John Thompson AO will step down from the position at the end of 2016.
Australian melanoma clinical practice guidelines have been published on a wiki platform for the first time as researchers try to keep up to date with emerging evidence.
Carole Renouf, CEO of Melanoma Institute Australia is asking young Australians who have been affected by melanoma to share their experiences with her.
Melanoma Institute Australia CEO Carole Renouf wants to make sure Aussies remember to take care of our skin as the festive season draws closer and we spend more time in the sun.
Can an individual’s risk factors for melanoma be used to tailor skin self-examinations and surveillance programs?
Prof Georgina Long has been appointed President-Elect Society for Melanoma Research (SMR).
The Australasian Melanoma Conference is bringing together some of the world's leading researchers and clinicians.
Best practice guidelines for melanoma care have gone digital with the first-ever online guidelines developed to adapt to the rapid change in clinical management.
Congratulations are in order for two of our talented researchers.
Professor Richard Scolyer will be sharing his expertise on melanoma pathology at the upcoming Australasian Melanoma Conference. Here he discusses what he'll be presenting on.
Researchers at MIA have established a High Risk Clinic to monitor people at very high risk of developing melanoma.
A generous donation has enabled a medical oncologist from Portugal to learn from the best in the world at MIA.