Treatment for Stage 3 Melanoma Patients

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We know that cancer has better outcomes for the patient if it's caught early. In Ireland we have a growing problem with Melanoma Skin Cancer and catching it early is critical. Up until now, we haven't had any effective treatments for people diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma.

These patients rely on surgery followed by a "watch and wait" strategy for treatment, but unfortunately, each year up to 50% of these patients will progress to a terminal stage 4 diagnosis while they are watching and waiting.

Now following international clinical trials we have for the first time a real opportunity to save these patients not only from the anguish of "watch and wait" but from progressing to stage 4 where they ultimately have a much higher risk of death from this disease. We now have the opportunity to cure these patients at stage 3, saving them and their families from the trauma of a terminal prognosis. Many of these patients are young parents under the age of 50, as melanoma tends to be more aggressive in this age group it is vitally important that we do all we can to help them.

One of the key goals of the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 is: "Ensure effective and equitable treatment throughout the care pathway to improve outcomes for all patients" (2019). [online]

The EMA  (European Medicines Agency) made a decision to license three treatments for Stage 3 melanoma, these treatments have been made available by other EU countries for patients just like those living in Ireland, yet if you live in Ireland you cannot access treatment for melanoma at Stage 3 unless you are a VHI private health insurance customer. This is not equitable treatment as outlined in the National Cancer Strategy above.

We are calling on the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and the NCCP (National Cancer Control Program) to rectify the current treatment inequality and give all Stage 3 Melanoma patients an equal opportunity to survive this horrendous, devastating disease, in line with the goals set out in our National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026. 


 References [Accessed 9 Jun. 2019].