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.
Chief Executive Officer, Melanoma Institute Australia
Using MIA's patient database, researchers have developed conditional survival estimates for Stage III melanoma patients to more accurately predict survival outcomes.
MIA is proud to be celebrating an important milestone – the 60th anniversary of melanoma research and Australian-led global efforts to find a cure.
Research achievements by MIA were celebrated at the annual Sydney Medical School recently.
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.
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 League Club Group has joined forces with Melanoma Institute Australia to help end melanoma for future generations.
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.
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.
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.
Meet Georgia, our Clinica Nurse Consultant who provides vital care and education for patients throughout their treatment.
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.
To celebrate International Women's Day 2017, MIA shares how some of the women who inspire the way we work every day, are showing their commitment to accelerate gender parity.
We welcome Mr Grant King to the position of Chairman of the Board of Melanoma Institute Australia, following the retirement of Mr Reg Richardson AM who led the organisation for 10 years.
Congratulations to PhD Student, Tuba Nur Gide who was awarded a NSW National Council of Women Australia Day Award for her PhD research work.
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.