People with aggressive melanomas could be spared the trauma of radiation treatments that wouldn’t work for them anyway thanks to world-first research at a Queensland hospital.
A research team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane is testing whether patients are resistant to radiation therapy before it is offered to them.
Similar to how drug resistance is tested, individual patients’ melanoma cells are radiated in a petri dish to indicate how they would respond to therapy.
Lead researcher Professor Bryan Burmeister says each melanoma patient reacted differently to treatment and it was important to establish the best course of action as early as possible.
“I’ve been working with melanomas now for 25 years and it still amazes me how, in some patients, the disease melts away and in others it just laughs at you and kills the patient within a few weeks or months,” Prof Burmeister said.
The new research, which is still in its early stages, will mean patients resistant to radiation therapy will be spared unnecessary toxicity by undergoing the treatment.
In turn, those who would respond well to radiation would not have to undergo invasive surgery to remove their tumours.
Meanwhile, Cancer Council Queensland warned melanoma was the most common cancer diagnosed in young Queenslanders.
Spokeswoman Katie Clift said 110 melanomas were diagnosed in men under 35 in the state, while there were around 140 new cases for women in the same age bracket.
“It is concerning to see so many cases diagnosed in those under 35 – a diagnosis of melanoma at such a young age can be particularly distressing,” Ms Clift said.
“Sun exposure in childhood influences the risk of skin cancer later in life – it’s vital for parents to protect young children from harmful UV rays as much as possible.”