News & Updates

by sophie | 24 April 2017 14:14

News stories on this page

September 2017: Mucosal Melanoma Guidelines consultation begins
August 2017: Melanoma working group rejects NHS drug retreatment rules
June 2017: AVAST-M Clinical Trial final results announced
May 2017: Patient Decision Aid launched
March 2017: Melanoma treatments: new drug combo restrictions lifted
January 2017: Melanoma World Society Newsletters
June 2016: NICE approves combination immunotherapy treatment for melanoma
June 2015: Patient Impact Programme award to Newcastle University for melanoma ulceration study
June 2015: Survey finds the public are confused by sunscreen labelling
January 2015: Review of smartphone melanoma apps recommends caution
January 2015: Melanoma Focus guidelines for uveal melanoma accredited by NICE
January 2015: Encouraging results announced for new immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab
November 2013: Follow-up of high risk cutaneous melanoma cases: key paper released
October 2013: Sunbeds: an ASA Ruling

A group established a year ago by Melanoma Focus to develop clinical guidelines on ano-uro-genital mucosal melanoma has completed work on its draft guidelines. It now seeks comments from interested organisations and individuals – including patients, carers and support groups.

Click here to find out more about this project, view the draft guidelines and discover how you can contribute your comments.

In a letter to NHS England by Dr Pippa Corrie, the NHSE Melanoma Working Group gives its reasons for not approving new NHS rules on funding melanoma drugs when therapy is re-started after a break in treatment.

The rules have ‘caused great concern and unhappiness across the oncology community’, Dr Corrie comments. Later in the letter she points out: ‘An unintended consequence of these new rules… may well be that patients are denied access to efficacious treatments, with consequent reduction in their survival’.

To see the letter in full – and also a link for registering as a stakeholder in consultation on this issue – click here.

The AVAST-M Trial was one of the largest melanoma trials ever undertaken, involving 1,343 patients at 48 UK hospitals between between 2007 and 2012. Final results were released at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology conference.

Click here to see the patient newsletter summarising the findings, together with comments by the Trial Chief Investigator, Dr Pippa Corrie.

After eight months’ work, Melanoma Focus has launched its Patient Decision Aid (PDA), which is designed to inform people about melanoma and guide patients through the decisions they will need to take during their treatment.  By helping people to understand their options, this new online tool will improve the effectiveness of conversations between melanoma specialists and their patients. A smartphone app version is planned in due course.

More than 30 clinicians, nurses and patient representatives contributed to the project, which was chaired by the charity’s CEO, Simon Rodwell, with Melanoma Focus Trustee Dr Mark Harries as lead clinician. ‘We are extremely grateful to the steering group for all their hard work’, Simon commented. ‘The PDA marks a significant improvement in the information available to melanoma patients about their choices and treatments and will help them, their families and their carers’.

Click here to go to the PDA page on this website, or click here to go direct to the dedicated PDA website.

NHS England has now removed restrictions on access for patients to certain therapies used in combination following a consultation process involving specialist melanoma oncologists led by Melanoma Focus Trustee Dr Pippa Corrie. The combinations are dabrafenib + trametinib, which is suitable for patients with a BRAF mutation, and the immunotherapy drugs ipilimumab + nivolumab. Click here for a full description of what has changed.

We now provide links and contents lists for this new series of excellent newsletters that review recently-published papers on all aspects of melanoma medicine. Click here to visit our Library page.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved a combination therapy for melanoma patients in England and Wales. This means they will be the first in Europe who can be prescribed this treatment. The decision was made in record time and is expected to apply in due course throughout the United Kingdom.

Dr Paul Nathan, a consultant medical oncologist and Melanoma Focus Trustee, commented: ‘Immunotherapy is genuinely exciting, it is starting to have a profound effect on many cancers and I’m in no doubt there will be patients that have long-term durable control of their disease. It really is a game-changer.’

The drugs, nivolumab and ipilimumab, will be combined in a new therapy for people with metastatic melanoma (or disease that has spread to organs of the body beyond the skin).

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: ‘These results give new hope to melanoma patients. But it’s important to remember that more powerful treatment comes with an increased chance of severe side effects. Our research now needs to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from this combination and who is most likely to experience the side effects, so doctors can make sure we get the balance right.’

NICE’s Professor Carole Longson said: ‘After one of the fastest drug appraisals NICE has carried out, these promising new immunotherapy treatments for advanced melanoma look set to significantly extend the life of people with the condition. The evidence we examined was very promising and I know further trials are ongoing which have also released encouraging data.’

Click here to read more.

Melanoma Focus has awarded funds to a scientific group based at Newcastle University to investigate the phenomenon of the ulceration of skin above a melanoma and the associated greater risk of the disease spreading to other parts of the body. The project, Validation of Ambra-1 and Loricrin as prognostic biomarkers for the early detection of high risk melanomas, will be conducted over 18 months under the direction of Dr Rob Ellis and Professor Penny Lovat and will concentrate on the role of two proteins found in the layer of skin overlying melanomas. The findings will help to predict which patients are at a higher risk of metastatic melanoma and therefore require closer follow-up, as well as investigating more effective therapies to reduce the rate of metastasis and overall mortality.

Click here for more information about the award… and here for a technical overview.

A survey by The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has found that the public is confused about the labelling of sun creams, calling for a standardised rating method by all manufacturers.

Professor Jayne Lawrence, Chief Scientist of the RPS, said: ‘This survey indicates that there is a huge amount of confusion around sunscreen labelling that is a barrier to effective sun protection. Clearly many consumers do not realise the SPF rating applies only to the amount of protection offered against UVB rays, not UVA rays – both of which can damage the skin and cause skin cancer.

‘People should not have to pick their way through complicated dual ratings information to understand how sunscreen works and the amount of protection it potentially provides. We think it’s time for sunscreen manufacturers to provide one easy to understand rating, based on a simple description of the total amount of sun protection offered: low, medium, high and very high protection.

‘People now have largely got the message that they must protect their skin from the sun using sunscreen, along with other precautions such as covering up and keeping out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. What the RPS is calling for now is one uniform measure for all sun protection products, so pharmacists can provide easy to understand advice on the effectiveness of products and how they should be used’.

Of the 2,000 UK adults who were surveyed only one in five was aware that the SPF rating relates to protection against UVB rays, rather than against UVA radiation. There is the possibility that overexposure to UVA or UVB radiation may lead to melanoma.

A recent study of smartphone applications (‘apps’) designed to be used by non-specialists in the detection or prevention of melanoma has urged users to be cautious. The review, published in the July 2015 edition of The British Journal of Dermatology, was the work of a team led by Dr Fiona Walter from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Public Health and Primary Care. It is the most comprehensive research finding of its type.

Dr Walter said: ‘Although smartphone apps are recognized as having potentially wide use in detecting melanoma, experts have expressed caution concerning their usefulness, accuracy and safety. We identified almost 40 apps available to detect or prevent melanoma by non-specialist users – patients and GPs.

‘Most apps gave advice or education about melanoma, ultraviolet radiation exposure preventive advice and skin self-examination strategies. Only half of them enabled patients to capture and store images of their skin lesions, either for review by a dermatologist or for self-monitoring to identify change – an important predictor of melanoma. A small minority (4) provided a risk assessment about a skin lesion.

‘In summary, there was little evidence of any evaluation of their usefulness or accuracy, so clinicians and patients alike should be cautious about using these apps to detect melanoma’.

Click here to see the article.

Melanoma Focus has announced that its recently-completed national guidelines for uveal (ocular) melanoma have been awarded formal accreditation by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Melanoma Focus has funded the project. The guidelines were developed over the past three years by the group of experts, aided by patient representatives. The result is a comprehensive set of recommendations, based on the best available scientific evidence. It is expected to enhance patient care and improve counselling and informed decision-making, while helping clinicians gain a better understanding of outcomes.

For further details click here

A highly anticipated new immunotherapy from Merck & Co Inc proved effective in patients with advanced melanoma as well as some with lung cancer or head and neck cancer, according to early-stage studies presented on Monday… a Phase I study in 411 patients with melanoma that had spread to other parts of the body found that 69 percent were alive after a year of treatment. At 18 months, researchers estimated that overall survival was 62 percent, with some patients on the drug for more than two years. The findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago. (Reuters)

Click here to see the report in full

Following the recent remarkable progress in improving the treatments available for those suffering from advanced melanoma, almost 50 of the UK’s leading melanoma clinicians have reached a consensus view on the how to follow up patients believed to be at a high risk of the disease recurring.

The report’s lead author, Dr James Larkin of The Royal Marsden, said: ‘Our findings represent a significant departure from the previous guidelines, which were published in 2010. They are intended as a framework for clinical teams treating patients with melanoma. But this is a dynamic field of medicine and we expect there to be some debate over these recommendations.’

Read more about this story via this link

Incensed by the extraordinary claims in a sunbed salon’s advertising about the potential health benefits of tanning, John Rouse (an adviser to Melanoma Focus) entered battle. He anticipated having to use expert witnesses to counter the salon’s assertions but in the event the Advertising Standards Authority ruled they contravened the regulation that only products licensed for medicinal purposes may claim such benefits.

Follow this link to read John’s account in full.

Have you seen a salon near you making exorbitant claims about the ‘benefits’ of sunbeds? If so, let us know:


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