New research to guide clinicians to more accurately stage and manage melanoma patients

New research to guide clinicians to more accurately stage and manage melanoma patients

16 November 2017

Drawing data primarily from the largest melanoma patient database in the world at Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA), new research has been published that forms the basis of the updated international guidelines for staging melanoma.

Ensuring patients are accurately staged and classified is fundamental to improving treatment outcomes for patients with melanoma. The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) recently updated its guidelines that define the different stages of melanoma.

New research, recently published in the prestigious and highly-ranked journal, A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, reveals the data behind the new staging system that will guide clinical decision making. These will ultimately provide better prognostic estimates and help classify patients more accurately for clinical trials.

In recent years, there has been a revolution in the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma that has resulted in major improvements for patient outcomes. It is against this background that the AJCC appointed a Melanoma Expert Panel to undertake the task of updating the cutaneous melanoma staging system for the 8th edition of the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual.  

The collaborative study used data from almost 50,000 patients collected from 20 international sites that formed the evidence of this staging system update. By far, the largest contributor of patients for the research was MIA, with more than 17,000 patients analysed from the Institute’s Melanoma Research Database.

The research data will become an important reference tool to help guide clinicians, public health authorities and clinical researchers with their decision making by having accurate information to stratify patients that will then provide a more realistic estimate of survival.

“Patients want to know what is likely to happen to them,” says study co-lead author and MIA’s Conjoint Medical Director Professor Richard Scolyer. “By ensuring patients are staged more accurately, patients will have more precise information to plan their future and to help guide them and their doctors about treatment decisions.”

This research will also have a significant impact on the design and analysis of clinical trials, which are fundamental to the advancement of patient care.

“Patient management has changed in recent years and the ways we investigate them has changed too,” says Professor Scolyer who is also the Vice Chair of the AJCC Melanoma Expert Panel. “This data is really critical for clinical trials, particularly now that we have effective adjuvant therapies. If you want to do an adjuvant trial, you need to know how to accurately classify your patients. This research will change the design, conduct and analysis of clinical trials, which is ultimately how we provide the evidence that changes clinical practice.”