Source: The The Australian, Wednesday, 11 June, 1997, p.3
By medical writer JUSTINE FERRARI THE first signs of a stalling in the relentless rise in the number of Australians with the potentially fatal skin cancer melanoma has appeared with a report suggesting the incidence among women has plateaued. A report by the NSW Cancer Council shows that the rate of women developing the disease in NSW-which has the nation's second highest rate of melanoma-rose by only 03 per cent a year over the 12 years to 1995 while the death rate fell by 0.8 per cent a year. Women appear to be heeding the lessons of slip, slop, slap more than men, with the incidence of melanoma in men Up by an average 4.1 per cent a year over the same period, while deaths from the disease increased by 1.7 per cent. One of the authors of the report and director of the council's Cancer Control Information Centre, Bruce Armstrong, said it was the first time in Australia "we see definite evidence that the incidence is plateauing". "We're very near the peak of the epidemic," he said. Rates were stabilising similarly in Queensland, which had the world's highest rates of melanoma, although the latest data was unavailable. The incidence continues to rise in the rest of the country. The encouraging report comes on the eve of the 4th World Conference on Melanoma-opened officially in Sydney last night by the Governor- General, Sir William Deane-where promising developments in treating the disease will be presented, including the effect of a positive attitude in prolonging life. The research director of the Sydney Melanoma Unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Alan Coates, said for the first time that preliminary results suggested a patient's belief that their treatment would cure their disease could as much as double their length of life. A study of 125 patients with melon- oma that had spread to a fatal stage showed those with a positive attitude lived an average 12 months while those with a more negative frame of mind lived an average six months. "Those people who seem to believe the aim of their treatment is to cure them have lived twice as long as people who believe rather more realistically their treatment is ... relieving symptoms or prolonging life to a limited extent," Dr Coates said. Researchers from the Sydney Melanoma Unit will also present the results of the world's biggest vaccine trial, involving more than 700 patients, which increased their rate of surviving the disease by 17 per cent. The head of the unit and secretary general of the conference, William McCarthy, said the vaccine aimed to prevent melanoma recurring in patients with large melanoma or where it had spread to the lymph nodes, by boosting their immune system. The vaccine is made from melanoma cells which are infected with cowpox virus to kill the cell but retain the protein from the melanoma cell.
Where to next?
Student Questions for this article
Teacher Discussion of this article
Index - Related articles
Index - Data Representation
Index - Data Reduction
Main Index - Numeracy in the News