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.

Australia unites taking small steps to make a big difference for melanoma research
23 Mar 2016

Australia unites taking small steps to make a big difference for melanoma research

Thank you to everyone involved in making Melanoma March 2016 a huge success

And they're off... Melanoma March 2016 begins!
29 Feb 2016

And they're off... Melanoma March 2016 begins!

Melanoma March 2016 has officially begun with more than 300 people marching in Rockingham and Devonport.

5 Minutes with Carole Renouf
29 Feb 2016

5 Minutes with Carole Renouf

MIA's new CEO Carole Renouf has been in her role only a month, but is already making plans for the future of MIA.

Opinion: Outing Melanoma
24 Feb 2016

Opinion: Outing Melanoma

In the wake of Susie Maroney's recent announcement that she is battling melanoma, CEO Carole Renouf's opinion piece weighs in on the critical need we have in Australia to raise awareness about melanoma. 

Congratulations Professor Georgina Long
22 Feb 2016

Congratulations Professor Georgina Long

MIA's Georgina Long has been appointed Professor and awarded a coverted prize in medial research.

Melanoma March 2016: Where your funds are going
19 Feb 2016

Melanoma March 2016: Where your funds are going

Melanoma March 2016 funding will be used to initiate an ambitious new project that will support the best possible care for melanoma patients around Australia through a new data and communication platform. 

New research shows long-term survival in group of advanced melanoma patients treated with BRAF inhibitors
05 Feb 2016

New research shows long-term survival in group of advanced melanoma patients treated with BRAF inhibitors

New MIA-led research has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Melanoma March 2016 is launched
02 Feb 2016

Melanoma March 2016 is launched

Melanoma March was officially launched today with the announcement of the national research project funded by the march. 

MIA's research pivotal in TGA's approval of new therapy
01 Feb 2016

MIA's research pivotal in TGA's approval of new therapy

Clinical research undertaken at MIA has been pivotal in supporting the recent Therapeutic Goods Administration approval of Opdivo (nivolumab) for advanced melanoma.

The Face of Melanoma March
28 Jan 2016

The Face of Melanoma March

Maddison, the face of our Melanoma March campaign, knows the far-reaching effects that melanoma can have.

Q&A With An Expert: Dermatologist
28 Jan 2016

Q&A With An Expert: Dermatologist

MIA's Dermatologist Associate Professor Pascale Guitera answers your most commonly-asked questions about sunscreen. 

New figures show melanoma most common cancer in young Queenslanders
08 Jan 2016

New figures show melanoma most common cancer in young Queenslanders

Statistics released by the Queensland Cancer Registry have revealed that melanoma is the most common cancer in young Queenslanders aged under 35, with rates in young women more than 20 per cent higher than in men.

5 minutes with Associate Professor Georgina Long
17 Dec 2015

5 minutes with Associate Professor Georgina Long

As 2015 draws to a close, we took the opportunity to speak with Associate Professor Georgina Long to discuss her crucial role at Melanoma Institute Australia, and the current research projects she is working on.

Watch Your Mate's Back: helping young Australians recognise melanoma
30 Nov 2015

Watch Your Mate's Back: helping young Australians recognise melanoma

MIA’s annual summer awareness campaign, which launched today (1 December), is reminding Australians how to protect themselves from the sun while highlighting the importance of encouraging friends, partners and family to do the same. 

Your Guide to Early Melanoma patient information packs
21 Oct 2015

Your Guide to Early Melanoma patient information packs

Your Guide to Early Melanoma is a new patient information pack to offer additional information for those affected by melanoma.   

Clinicians invited to MIA's 'World Round Up' event
21 Oct 2015

Clinicians invited to MIA's 'World Round Up' event

Special Event to share advances in diagnosis and treatment of both early and late stage melanoma

Melanoma landmark study to develop personalised cancer treatment
26 Aug 2015

Melanoma landmark study to help further develop personalised cancer treatment

MIA researchers contribute to the discovery of ‘treasure trove’ of information leading to more targeted treatments for melanoma 

Sunrise features inspiring story of MIA patient
10 Aug 2015

Sunrise features inspiring story of MIA patient

Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) patient Tara Moran and her seven year old daughter Olivia, who is fundraising for MIA, have been in the national media spotlight this week. 

Leading researchers honoured for global contribution to science and innovation
16 Jul 2015

Leading researchers honoured for global contribution to science and innovation

Melanoma Institute Australia’s (MIA’s) researchers have again been recognised, this time in the prestigious line-up for the 2015 Thomson Reuters Australian Citation & Innovation Awards.

MIA welcomes ground-breaking new PBS melanoma treatment
03 Jul 2015

MIA welcomes ground-breaking new PBS melanoma treatment

New Federal Government funding means patients with the most deadly form of melanoma, will soon be able to receive treatment with the drug Keytruda® (pembrolizumab), on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).