Beating melanoma matters to Rick Kefford

Beating melanoma matters to Rick Kefford


bjbj Rick Kefford: Melanoma is the Australian
cancer. And it s that because we have 10 times the incidence in Australia to most other countries
in the world. It s also the Australian cancer because it has such a disproportionate impact
on young Australians. So, for example, it s the commonest cause of cancer death in young
men and young women. Super: Tell us about your work in the treatment of melanoma Rick
Kefford: Melanoma starts off as a little abnormal mole in the skin. Now a large number of those
can be cured by surgery, but unfortunately, in a significant proportion of patients, those
cells can migrate through the bloodstream and the lymph vessels to distant organs where
they form what we call, secondary tumours. Once that has occurred, most patients die
within 12 months. And up until very recently, we ve had no effective treatments for that
condition. Our particular contribution here at Westmead has been the early clinical trial
of a number of very new and very interesting targeted drugs that knock out a specific abnormality
in melanoma cells. These drugs have proved to be an absolutely astonishing leap forward
in the management of this disease. They are impacting on quality of life but also most
importantly, they re extending life. So, if you like, this is a foundation step that we
ve made and it s one on which we re already building in a stepwise fashion to make a significant
improvement in the prognosis of patients with metastatic melanoma. Super: Why should this
matter to Australians? Rick Kefford: I am deeply distressed by the amount of human suffering
that this disease still causes in this country. I m proud of the steps forward that we ve
made but we ve got a hell of a long way to go. What matters to me is getting there. [Content_Types].xml
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