Opinion: Outing Melanoma

Opinion: Outing Melanoma

24 February 2016

Melanoma strikes Susie Maroney. An Australian golden girl who made the seas her element has the misfortune to encounter an Australian fact of life and one of our best-kept national secrets. We have the world’s highest rates of melanoma, 12 times the global average. The tragedy is that melanoma is 95% preventable, but we in Australia have a passionate love affair with the sun and just don’t like to talk about the downside.  At 41, Susie is young, a mother with three children who needs to have many years ahead of her. She has overcome many obstacles in her life thus far and we hope melanoma will simply be another one.

Treatment for melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, has made marathon progress in the past five years, much of it led by Australian clinicians and researchers at Melanoma Institute Australia. Previously, the only treatment for melanoma was surgery. Today, immunotherapy, targeted therapy and radiotherapy have claimed their places as additional disciplines. A tripling of life expectancy has been achieved for people with advanced disease. While the research effort turbocharges, to prevent melanoma we have to go back to the basics.

If there is one message we would like to reach the public, it is that melanoma is the most common cancer amongst 15-39 year olds. And in 20-34 year olds it kills more young Australians than any other cancer. No one is bullet-proof. Melanoma can manifest anywhere: it’s not always a changing mole on your back, such as Susie found. It can appear on the soles of your feet, the palms of your hands, under the hair on your scalp, even under a toenail or a tattoo. And you won’t know it’s there.

An Omnipoll we recently commissioned revealed that 39 percent of Australians aged 18–34 have never had a skin check and 78% have not had one in the past year.  If you’re over 20 in Australia today, you should have an initial skin check by a GP or at a skin check clinic. They can then advise, based on your personal risk factors, how often your skin needs to be checked from head to toe in the future. If melanoma is caught early, it is now very treatable.

At 17, Susie was the youngest swimmer to cross the English Channel both ways and went on to capture many more records. She has declared that during her many, many kilometres in the ocean, she did not wear sunscreen. Regular use of sunscreen and covering up with UV-protective fabrics goes a long way. On land, broad-brimmed hats and wrap-around sunglasses also help as does taking shelter in shade.

Let’s bring melanoma out of the shadows.

Carole Renouf

Chief Executive Officer, Melanoma Institute Australia

Update from ASCO 2017
17 Jun 2017

Update from ASCO 2017

Melanoma research at ASCO this year focussed on the more precise use of current treatments to ensure optimal treatment for each patient.

Diagnosing melanoma of the mouth
16 Jun 2017

Diagnosing melanoma of the mouth

MIA recently demonstrated that reflectance confocal microscopy is a useful tool in the clinic to diagnose suspicious-looking lesions in the mouth.

New practice-changing research will reduce the need for major surgery in many melanoma patients
09 Jun 2017

New practice-changing research will reduce the need for major surgery in many melanoma patients

New research is likely to change the way melanoma is managed in many patients by reducing the need for major surgery and its associated morbidity and cost.

MIA researchers to share new findings at world's largest cancer conference
25 May 2017

MIA researchers to share new findings at world's largest cancer conference

Researchers from MIA will present their latest research findings to the world’s largest oncology conference in early June.

Australian researchers pioneer life-extending treatment for advanced melanoma patients with brain tumours
18 May 2017

Australian researchers pioneer life-extending treatment for advanced melanoma patients with brain tumours

Australian researchers are the first to demonstrate that patients with advanced melanoma which has spread to the brain can have increased life expectancy and possibly even beat the disease.

Melanoma March 2017 wraps up!
12 May 2017

Melanoma March 2017 wraps up!

Melanoma March 2017 - that's a wrap! Thank you to everyone that helped make it happen. 

Melanoma March 2017 helping kick start the Big Data for Melanoma national Research Project!
11 May 2017

Melanoma March 2017 helping kick start the Big Data for Melanoma national Research Project!

Thank you so much to all those who contributed in a variety of ways to Melanoma March 2017 in 17 different locations and more around the country! You have contributed to getting the Big Data for Melanoma national Research Project happening!

Whole genome sequencing finds unexpected genomic landscape in melanoma
10 May 2017

Whole genome sequencing finds unexpected genomic landscape in melanoma

By looking at the ‘dark matter’ of the genome, new research has found that genetic changes in acral and mucosal melanoma are completely different to mutations found in skin melanoma.

Shining a light on melanomas that aren't caused by the sun
04 May 2017

Shining a light on melanomas that aren't caused by the sun

‘Slip, slop, slap’ is synonymous with being Australian and playing it safe in the sun. These sun smart rules reduce our chances of getting melanoma of the skin. However, new research tells a different story for those affected by rarer forms of melanoma.

New research which more accurately predicts survival for melanoma patients
19 Apr 2017

New research which more accurately predicts survival for melanoma patients

Using MIA's patient database, researchers have developed conditional survival estimates for Stage III melanoma patients to more accurately predict survival outcomes.

Celebrating 60 years of melanoma research to save lives
19 Apr 2017

Celebrating 60 Years of melanoma research to save lives

MIA is proud to be celebrating an important milestone – the 60th anniversary of melanoma research and Australian-led global efforts to find a cure.

Celebrating our research achievements
07 Apr 2017

Celebrating our research achievements

Research achievements by MIA were celebrated at the annual Sydney Medical School recently.

Global Melanoma Research Report - April
06 Apr 2017

Global Melanoma Research Report - April

In this Global Research Report we showcase advances in medical oncology, reveal unexpected pathology in acral and skin melanoma, and uncover biomarkers and new gene targets for melanoma.

The people behind the Professors
29 Mar 2017

The people behind the Professors

Professor’s Long and Scolyer are well known in the academic community and beloved by their patients. But we wanted to get to know our new Conjoint Medical Directors a little more and hear their plans on making an impact on melanoma.

Wyong Rugby Leagues kicks goal to help end melanoma
28 Mar 2017

Wyong Rugby Leagues kicks goal to help end melanoma

Wyong Rugby League Club Group has joined forces with Melanoma Institute Australia to help end melanoma for future generations.

Melanoma research reaches a milestone
21 Mar 2017

Melanoma research reaches a milestone

Melanoma research has reached a milestone with the 10,000th patient giving their permission for their blood and tissue samples to be used in the world’s largest melanoma biospecimen bank. 

Contributing to the promise of Surgical Oncology
17 Mar 2017

Contributing to the promise of Surgical Oncology

MIA's researchers and clinicians are in Seattle, USA, today sharing their research findings at the prestigious Society of Surgical Oncology’s Annual Cancer Symposium.

Introducing Melanoma Institute Australia's Conjoint Medical Directors
14 Mar 2017

Introducing Melanoma Institute Australia's Conjoint Medical Directors

Two of the world’s best minds in melanoma have taken over the academic and clinical leadership of Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA). Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer are the new Conjoint Medical Directors of MIA, and are shaping the future direction of melanoma research, treatment and education.

A day in the life of... Georgia Cairns CNC
10 Mar 2017

A day in the life of... Georgia Cairns CNC

Meet Georgia, our Clinica Nurse Consultant who provides vital care and education for patients throughout their treatment.

The real tragedy on Married At First Sight that Australia should be talking about....
08 Mar 2017

The real tragedy on Married At First Sight that Australia should be talking about....

Australia, we need to talk. This week’s dramatic episodes of Married At First Sight have highlighted a tragedy which is ripping Australian families apart. Yet no one is talking about it.