Sweeping updates to melanoma treatments

Melanoma patients across Australia will benefit from the release of updated clinical care guidelines that recommend sentinel node biopsy and drug therapy as important tools in the management of melanoma.

Professor John Thompson AO, Chair of the Guidelines Working Group and Senior Faculty Member at Melanoma Institute Australia, says the updated guidelines reflected new and advanced diagnostic and treatment options for melanoma resulting from research reported over the last five years.

“The melanoma treatment landscape has changed dramatically in recent years due to extensive and ongoing research and clinical trials, and it is vital that frontline healthcare professionals across Australia are aware of new diagnostic techniques and treatments that are saving lives,” Professor Thompson said.

“Sentinel lymph node biopsy is an important, minimally invasive staging procedure which enables clinicians to determine a patient’s risk of recurrence of melanoma. Discussing this procedure with patients is important because if the sentinel node has melanoma in it, drug treatment can reduce the chance of the melanoma returning.

“Recent clinical trial results have shown that complete removal of all remaining lymph nodes, previously the standard treatment recommendation, usually provides no additional patient benefit, and it is no longer standard management.

“The message to Australians is simple – keep a close eye on your skin and if anything looks suspicious or changes, get it checked by a medical professional who now has access to up-to-date, evidence-based treatment guidelines,” he said.

The guidelines are available for download by healthcare professionals at: wiki.cancer.org.au/australia/Guidelines:Melanoma