Melanoma treatment uses immune system to fight tumours

MELANOMA may be more common in central Queensland women, but men are more likely to die from the disease.

Cancer Council Queensland figures reveal the skin cancer to be the most common cancer in CQ behind prostate, lung, colorectal and breast cancer.

The revelation comes as life-extending melanoma drug Yervoy was added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The drug is the first in a class of new treatments called immunotherapies, which use the body's own immune system to fight tumours.

Melanoma Patients Australia estimates the listing on the PBS will bring the cost of $120,000 for a course of four treatments to about $36 a treatment for about 1400 patients annually.

Local support group Melanoma Patients Gladstone co-ordinator Regan O'Grady supported the move.

"It now makes it more easily accessible for those wanting the drug," Ms O'Grady said.

The Calliope cancer survivor has been a part of Gladstone's skin cancer support group since 2009.

After being diagnosed in high school, Ms O'Grady has been sharing her wisdom with the six members of the support group.

"Being in Gladstone is so hard (to get people to come along) because people work long hours," she said.

"We lost one of our members recently as well."

Ms O'Grady said Gladstone residents had a different approach to skin cancer than those in the city.

"A lot of people have the mentality (in central Queensland) that it will be alright," she said.

"It's a lot different to people living in big cities where they are constantly reminded to check out their moles."

If in doubt, check it out, Ms O'Grady said.

 

How to spot melanoma

  • Look for change in a freckle or a mole
  • Change could be in size, shape or colour
  • Early detection is vital
  • Rarest, yet most dangerous, skin cancer


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