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For decades, doctors have been using “staging” – a standardized method of determining how far a cancer has spread – to understand their patients’ likelihood of metastasis.
To help determine your stage, your doctor will need to measure the thickness of your melanoma from the skin biopsy sample. Another factor doctors will consider is mitotic rate—that is, the rate at which cells are dividing in a certain amount of melanoma tissue. Also, sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), in which nearby lymph nodes are checked for cancer cells, can be important in staging your melanoma. Source: American Cancer Society*The survival rate is higher for Stage IIIA cancers than for some Stage II cancers. Staging is used by physicians to determine the prognosis (or outlook) on cancer, and is therefore an important part of selecting treatment and follow-up care. Today, physicians have access to a new gene test, called DecisionDx™-Melanoma, which was designed to accurately classify high and low risk—regardless of how the cancer may spread and irrespective of the tumor’s physical appearance. A new genomic test is designed to predict if your cancer is at high risk of spreading, based on your tumor’s biology. Breakthrough Cancer Research today welcomed the Bristol Myres Squibb’s pioneering early stage study which has posted a near fivefold increase in survival rates of skin cancer using immunotherapy.
These results add to the increasing amount of evidence of the role of the immunotherapy in curative cancer treatments and indicates that new drugs and treatments are able to deliver on our understanding that the immune system plays an invaluable role in the bodies fight against cancer.

Researchers pioneering methods of harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, have uncovered further dramatic results in a worldwide clinical trial involving 7,000 patients, with some in Dublin, Cork and Galway, presented this past weekend at ASCO’s annual meeting.
Breakthrough Cancer Research which funds research programmes at the Cork Cancer Research Centre, firmly believe that Immunotherapy treatment is coming of age, the research centre has been working in this area for over 15 years.
Dr Declan Soden Principal Investigator with the Cork Cancer Research Centre says “It’s incredibly exciting that we are finally starting to see the benefits of targeting the immune system to treat cancer patients. We have treated over 500 patients with Skin cancer with treatments pioneered in Cork and our new trial will combine this locally effective with immune stimulating compounds.  We are very excited about what this could mean for Irish patients with melanoma.
Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in Ireland with 852 new cases diagnosed each year in Ireland 110 die of the disease.
As of January 2016, it is estimated that there are 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States.
For additional cancer-related statistics, please visit NCI's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program.
Each stage (Stage I-IV) represents a group of patients whose tumors share similar physical characteristics. This is likely because the main (primary) tumor is often less advanced for IIIA cancers, although this is not clear.
Patients whose tumors meet the criteria for Stage I, are thought to have a better prognosis than those in Stage II, III, or IV, for example.

Unlike staging, the gene expression profile test predicts the likelihood of metastasis by analyzing the activity of a specific set of genes within the tumor (see Test Overview).
At the CCRC our research has always worked on the understanding that it’s our immune system that cures patients. These findings and the further studies being undertaken by Breakthrough Cancer Research offer hope to those affected by advanced skin cancer. Anticipating the ''Silver Tsunami'': Prevalence Trajectories and Comorbidity Burden among Older Cancer Survivors in the United States. As with other cancers, the staging system for melanoma was developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC).
DecisionDx-Melanoma can help provide a clearer picture of your cancer’s likelihood to metastasize, which can be extremely helpful to you and your doctor in deciding how to most effectively manage the disease. Understanding why it works in some patients and not in others is part of the challenge but we have no doubt that over the coming years immunotherapy will become an increasingly important tool in bringing an end to cancer”.
The study is being headed up by Dr Derek Power and we hope to have Irish Medicines Board approval before the end of the year”.

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