Primary Melanoma Project: A long-term study of melanoma patients
When melanoma is diagnosed early—while it is still superficial—it can be cured by surgical resection, but if cutaneous melanoma metastasises it is largely unresponsive to existing therapies and has a very poor prognosis.
The Primary Melanoma Project is a collaborative, long-term project that is following the progress of 825 people who have been diagnosed with an early stage melanoma, and are still at high risk of it spreading. We plan to follow their progress for 5 to 10 years after diagnosis.
Melanoma is notoriously unpredictable and while the majority of high-risk patients will experience a recurrence of disease within two years of their initial diagnosis, metastasis can occur at any time, even many years after initial treatment.
We are a multidisciplinary team of clinical and statistical epidemiologists, psycho-oncologists and treating clinicians, and we have active links with other epidemiologists and molecular biologists and geneticists in the QIMR Berghofer working on similar projects.
Our research aims to look at different factors relating to both the patient and the tumour, to see which can predict the spread to metastatic disease. This information could inform doctors and clinicians, assisting with prevention and targeted treatment of early stage melanoma.
In addition, the examination of biomarkers in the primary skin tumours in relation to outcome, may enable us to predict in the future which patients might be at a greater risk of the melanoma spreading and may, therefore inform a more tailored approach to clinical treatment.
To date there has been little research into the needs and outcomes of this group of survivors of melanoma. Ongoing funding to keep this project alive is a continual challenge. Support from interested members of the community would ease this ever-present concern and help ensure that we realise the maximum benefit from the Primary Melanoma Project.
'Ongoing funding is a continuing challenge, especially costs to maintain this excellent research resource and continue follow-up of the cohort beyond the next couple of years.'