Australian researchers develop new melanoma treatment

Start a Quote

Often caused by overexposure to the sun, melanoma is a type of malignant skin tumour that forms from melanocytes or pigment-containing skin cellsi. Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in Australiaii. In 2010 alone, more than 11,000 people in Australia were diagnosed with melanoma. A 2014 report released by Melanoma Patients Australia indicated that the rate of melanoma in Australia had increased by almost 45 per cent since 2000iii.

Always consult your doctor if you see a mole that changes shape

With the incidence of melanoma in Australia on the rise, research into improvements in the treatment of the cancer has never been more important. In a breakthrough clinical trial conducted by Melbourne researchers from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre this year, 495 patients from 20 countries were studied. The aim of the study was to investigate whether the use of combination therapy delayed the spread of the cancer, and to determine if the number of people that responded to treatment had increasediv. The results of the trial - published in the New England Journal of Medicine - indicated that by attacking melanoma with a combination of two drugs, vemurafenib and cobimetinib, delays were seen before the onset of recurrence was observed in patientsv.

The results of this study lay the foundation for further advances and may even provide more successful results in the future in terms of both halting disease progression and extending livesvi. The use of combination therapy in the treatment of melanoma marks important progress and could have far reaching consequences for the treatment of many forms of cancer in the futurevii.

Early detection and regular self-checks may save your life.

Following the success of the world first trial which concluded in July, other studies have commenced using alternative combinations of drugs and immunotherapyviii.

Melanoma can often be treated if detected early so safeguard your health by performing regular self-checks, paying particular attention to new moles and ones that appear to change in colour or sizeix. Also ensure that you undergo annual skin checks at your local physician, or more regularly if you observe a change or have a history of melanoma in your familyx.

iCancer Council NSW, Melanoma, viewed 31 October 2014,

iiCancer Council Australia, Melanoma, viewed 5 December 2014,

iiiWebWire 2014, Australian Skin Cancer and Melanoma Rates, viewed 31 October 2014,

ivThe Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre 2014, Global landmark clinical trial defines new treatment combination for people with advanced melanoma, viewed 31 October

vThe New England Journal of Medicine 2014, Combined Vemurafenib and Cobimetinib in BRAF-Mutated Melanoma, 371:1867-1876, 13 November 2014, viewed 31 October 2014,

viNews Medical 2014, Combination therapy achieves greater progression-free survival, response rates in melanoma, viewed 31 October 2014,

viiMedical Xpress 2014, New data on combination treatments for melanoma, viewed 31 October,

viiiBrown, R 2014, 'Melbourne researchers trial breakthrough combination melanoma treatment', ABC AM, 30 September, viewed 2 December 2014,

ixBetter Health Channel 2014, Melanoma, viewed 8 December 2014,

xThe George St Skin Cancer Clinic, 'Prevention is best early detection is next', viewed 3 December 2014,