New online calculator launched to determine risk of spread of melanoma

New online calculator launched to determine risk of spread of melanoma

15 June 2020

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.

For patients recently diagnosed with melanoma, one of the first hurdles is to find out whether the melanoma cells have spread. To do this, clinicians will biopsy the first lymph node (known as the “sentinel” node) to see if melanoma cells are present, indicating that spread to it has occurred.  If it has, it greatly increases the likelihood that it has spread further. This information in turn, helps determine the patient’s best treatment plan.  

Dr Alexander Varey and Associate Professor Serigne Lo from Melanoma Institute Australia, whose team developed the calculator based on research published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said it has the potential to better identify melanoma patients who are most likely to benefit from a sentinel node biopsy, as well as those least likely to benefit.

‘For us, one of the big questions was, can we better predict which patients will be at significant risk of having their cancer spread to their lymph nodes?’ said Dr Varey.  ‘That’s what this calculator aims to do. 

‘The calculator takes into account five pieces of basic information about the melanoma and the patient’s age to determine the patient’s individual risk of the cancer having spread to their lymph nodes.

‘This means that patients deemed at low risk of disease spread can potentially avoid having a sentinel node biopsy, which sometimes has complications and usually requires a general anaesthetic.’

Current treatment guidelines recommend that if a patient has a tumour with a particular set of parameters – mainly tumours that are slightly thicker or ulcerated – then removal and examination of the sentinel node should be considered. However, these guidelines are not tailored to individual patients and don’t take into account important information including the age of the patient. Younger age is known to be one of the most important risk factors for melanoma spreading to lymph nodes.

Supported by a Sydney Health Partners grant, the MIA team used established international calculators as a starting point. The research team tailored them to Australian demographics using patient data from Melanoma Institute Australia’s extensive database, which has been built up over a 50-year period. The team then built a new calculator to include additional patient parameters that increased its reliability and showed it provided considerably more accurate predictions than were previously available. 

The calculator has been trialed at sites including Royal Prince Alfred, Royal North Shore and Westmead Hospitals with enthusiastic responses from clinicians and their patients.

‘The calculator enables clinicians to have better informed discussions with their patients based on each individual’s percentage risk, rather than a few simplistic criteria that only approximate the risk of disease spread to the lymph nodes,’ said MIA Co-Medical Directors, Professor Richard Scolyer and Professor Georgina Long AO.

‘The main benefit of the calculator is likely to be for those deemed to be at low risk of disease spread, who can safely forgo a sentinel node biopsy. This is of benefit particularly to older patients who are less likely to have melanoma spread to their lymph nodes, but who are at increased risk of complications from extra surgery and general anaesthesia.’

The Sentinel Node Biopsy Risk Calculator is available for clinician use here: www.melanomarisk.org.au

 

References

An improved risk-prediction calculator for sentinel node positivity in melanoma patients: the MIA nomogram.

Serigne N Lo, Jiawen Ma, Richard A Scolyer, Lauren E Haydu, Jonathan R Stretch, Robyn PM Saw, Omgo E Nieweg, Kerwin F Shannon, Andrew J Spillane, Sydney Ch’ng, Graham J Mann, Jeffrey E Gershenwald, John F Thompson, Alexander HR Varey.

Published in: Journal of Clinical Oncology 

 

Two melanoma treatments approved for PBS listing
24 Dec 2019

Two melanoma treatments approved for PBS listing

Melanoma patients are set to benefit from subsidised access to immunotherapy treatment for high risk early-stage and advanced-stage melanoma patients.    

Immunotherapy: the decade's biggest health advance
23 Dec 2019

Immunotherapy: the decade's biggest health advance

An informative article on how immunotherapy is revolutionising cancer treatment, written by Jill Margo and featured in the Australian Financial Review.  

 

Boost to Melanoma Services in the Riverina
12 Dec 2019

Boost to Melanoma Services in the Riverina

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.

Winner of the SunSafe Student Ambassador Program announced
11 Dec 2019

Winner of the SunSafe Student Ambassador Program announced

Belmont High School at Lake Macquarie has been announced winner of the 2019 SunSafe Student Ambassador Program video competition.

Community Fundraising November Wrap-Up
04 Dec 2019

Community Fundraising November Wrap-Up

It’s time again to say thank you to our amazing community fundraisers!

MIA & MPA Patient Information Evening videos now available
03 Dec 2019

MIA & MPA Patient Information Evening videos now available

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 shines in poster session
22 Nov 2019

MIA shines in poster session

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.

MIA Co-Medical Director opens SMR Congress in USA
21 Nov 2019

MIA Co-Medical Director opens SMR Congress in USA

Professor Georgina Long has today opened the Society for Melanoma Research 2019 Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Highly Cited Researchers List names MIA Co-Medical Directors
20 Nov 2019

Highly Cited Researchers List names MIA Co-Medical Directors

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.

MPA and MIA collaboration
07 Nov 2019

MPA and MIA collaboration

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.

Community Fundraising October Wrap-Up
04 Nov 2019

Community Fundraising October Wrap-Up

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.

Promising data for advanced melanoma patients
09 Oct 2019

Promising data for advanced melanoma patients

MIA has presented promising data regarding progression-free survival rates for advanced melanoma patients at the ESMO 2019 Congress in Barcelona.

Melanoma Information Forum
04 Oct 2019

Melanoma Information Forum

We are delighted to partner with Melanoma Patients Australia to host a Melanoma Information Forum at The Poche Centre on 6th November.

Community Fundraising September Wrap-Up
02 Oct 2019

Community Fundraising September Wrap-Up

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.

Notice for Supporters to Submit to PBAC
26 Sep 2019

Notice for Supporters to Submit to PBAC

Comments in favour of giving patients with BRAF-positive melanoma access to first-line immunotherapy need to be submitted online prior to October 9, 2019.

Tune into Jay's Longest Melanoma March Channel 10 documentary
16 Sep 2019

Tune into Jay's Longest Melanoma March Channel 10 documentary

Jay's Longest Melanoma March documentary is screening this Sunday 22 September at 1pm (AEST) on Channel 10, capturing behind the scenes of the 2000km walk, Adelaide to Sydney in 50 days. Uniting to end melanoma.

Professor Georgina Long Co-Medical Director named Women of Influence in Australian Financial Review Top 100 List
11 Sep 2019

Professor Georgina Long Co -Medical Director named Women of Influence in AFR Top 100 List

We are proud to announce that our Professor Georgina Long Co -Medical Director Melanoma Institute Australia has been named in the Top 100 Financial Review 2019 Women of Influence.

Community Fundraising August Wrap-Up
04 Sep 2019

Community Fundraising August Wrap-Up

It’s been a month since we highlighted some of our incredibly generous community fundraisers. We thought we’d have a look back at August and put the spotlight on more of the wonderful people who give up their time to fundraise for MIA, so we can continue to edge closer to our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.

From Lab Coats To Lycra - Australian Melanoma experts take on world Triathlon championships
02 Sep 2019

From Lab Coats To Lycra - Australian Melanoma experts take on world Triathlon championships

They are a formidable team - in work and in play  –  and one set to make history on both fronts.

Melanoma Institute Australia hosts first SunSafe Student Ambassador Program for 2019
30 Aug 2019

Melanoma Institute Australia hosts SunSafe Student Ambassador Programs 2019

This week, Melanoma Institute Australia hosted the first of six SunSafe Student Ambassador Programs for 2019.

Tags: SunSafe