As long as melanoma is detected early on, the skin cancer can usually be removed with an 85% cure rate.
Still, the cancer can find ways of returning – a fact that’s particularly alarming in Australia, which has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.
According to New South Wales Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, “[Melanoma is] the largest skin cancer killer in young people, a cancer where there hasn’t really been the in-roads that have occurred in other cancers.”
Australia’s Melanoma Institute plans to change that. Researchers will study hundreds of specimens of melanoma cancer over the next two years. The goal is to identify which mutations are most likely to re-emerge after the melanoma is originally removed.
As Professor Richard Scolyer of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, says, “This research will identify genes that are important in causing the tumors to recur. [We will be] able to identify patients upfront who are at… high risk of their tumor recurring.”
The timing couldn’t be better, considering that the World Health Organization says 132,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed worldwide each year.