Melanoma is a very common skin cancer in Australia.
In 2016 it estimated by the Skin Cancer in Australia Report (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) that there will be 13 280 new cases of Melanoma and 1770 deaths from Melanoma in Australia.
The incidence rate for melanoma under the age of 40 has recently decreased between 1982-2016 which may be attributable to increased skin cancer awareness and sun protection.
However, the incidence rate of melanoma in those older than 40 continues to increase.
Early detection remains the most important factor in melanoma survival.
In 2007-2011, people diagnosed with melanoma had a 90% chance of surviving at least 5 years.
New melanoma treatments are now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and through Clinical Trials which have been shown to prolong life in metastatic melanoma.
A majority of melanomas seen by Dermatologists are in situ Melanomas. These melanomas are in their very early stages of development and their potential for spread mitigated by early detection and removal. Melanoma in situ generally has a good prognosis and in most cases requires no further investigation. Life long skin cancer surveillance following diagnosis is however required. This surveillance ( a skin check) allows for early detection of new melanoma lesions and early identification of any complications from pre-existing melanomas.
Invasive melanoma is also commonly diagnosed and treated by Dermatologists. The level of invasion into the skin will determine what further investigation is required, which may involve CT/PET scan and sentinel lymph node biopsy. These further investigations may help to predict prognosis but do not always allow for increased survival from melanoma. However with new treatments available for metastatic melanoma provided by Medical Oncologists, survival is shown to be prolonged in many treated cases. Lifelong skin cancer surveillance is also required.
Your dermatologist at Perth Dermatology Clinic will perform your skin cancer surveillance and surgical treatment for melanoma and also arrange for any further investigations and consultations as appropriate for you.