Stopping the spread of deadly skin cancer

Queensland scientists are working to stop the spread of one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer thanks to a $200,000 research grant awarded by Cancer Council Queensland.

There is currently no treatment for metastatic melanoma (skin cancer that has spread to distant skin sites, lymph nodes or internal organs) that has a proven impact on decreasing mortality.

Thanks to funding from Cancer Council Queensland, Dr Glen Boyle and his team at QIMR Berghofer are working to identify new targets for prevention and treatment of metastatic disease.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the research was crucial, with Queensland having the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

“In Queensland alone, 3200 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year,” Ms Clift said.

“While it can be easy to detect and remove melanoma on the surface of the skin, very little is known about how the cancer develops and spreads under the surface.

“The further a melanoma spreads, the lower the chance of survival.

“We urge all Queenslanders to know their own skin and get it checked regularly to ensure early detection and improved chances of survival.

“It’s also imperative that we invest in local research to identify ways we can stop the spread of this deadly skin cancer, and treat the cancer effectively if it has metastasised.”

Dr Glen Boyle and QIMR Berghofer researchers are examining the role different proteins play in the formation of melanoma, and how they grow or invade the body.

“If you find a primary melanoma on the surface of the skin that is relatively small, you have a better than 95 per cent chance of being alive in five years. If you can get it early, it’s very curable,” Dr Boyle said.

“Unfortunately when melanoma metastasises to the liver or the brain, in places like that it is incredibly hard to detect.”

A breakthrough in Dr Boyle’s research could go on to drastically improve detection and treatment for metastatic melanoma.

Cancer Council Queensland recommends all Queenslanders conduct regular skin checks, and stay SunSmart when outdoors and the UV Index is 3 or above.

If a new spot or lesion appears, or a spot or lesion changes in shape, colour or size – Queenslanders should visit their GP immediately.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.

More information about Dr Glen Boyle’s work at QIMR Berghofer is available at