Why melanoma kills some but not others

A Queensland hospital yesterday announced breakthrough research that will study why some melanoma cancers are deadly and others respond well to

A Queensland hospital yesterday announced breakthrough research that will study why some melanoma cancers are deadly and others respond well to treatment.

Researchers at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane will test the cells of patients’ melanomas to see if they are resistant to radiation therapy before they begin treatment. Some melanomas have shown a resistance to radiation treatment and it is hoped this research will spare many people unnecessary treatment that wouldn’t work for them.

Lead researcher Professor Bryan Burmeister told Fairfax media, “I’ve been working with melanomas now for 25 years and it still amazes me how, in some patients, the disease melts away and in others it just laughs at you and kills the patient within a few weeks or months.”

“There is an incredible variation in the behaviour of this disease.”

It is hoped that with this new test, the best course of action can quickly be determined.

Patients whose cancers are resistant to radiation would be spared the toxicity and trauma of that particular treatment and, on the flip side, those whose melanoma responded well to radiation wouldn’t have to undergo invasive surgery.

In a similar way to how drug resistance is tested, patients’ melanoma cells are to be radiated in a petri dish to determine how they might respond to therapy.

The researchers will also seek to understand just why some melanoma are resistant to radiation therapy and how to overcome this.

Acting Health Minister Anthony Lynham said this ground-breaking research was extremely important. “Melanoma is a diabolical disease,” he said.

Melanoma accounts for one in ten cancer diagnoses and is more common in men that women.

For a quick guide to spotting the deadly disease that’s as easy as ABCD, see this guide from the Cancer Council.

Have you or someone you love experienced melanoma? How was it diagnosed and treated?


  1. I had a “suspect” spot cut out of my back yesterday afternoon. Have to wait a week to see if it is a melanoma.

    • I hope you are ok, a week will seem like forever waiting, try to let slip from your mind xo let us know Ruth.

    • Thanks Libbi. Will keep you informed. Had one cutfrom my nose a few months ago. It was okay.

    • I hope your ok, my cousin was first diagnosed with a melanoma 16 years ago and since has had a lot of surgery, however she is amazing and she never lets it hold her back. She does pretty much what she wants to do even travel over seas every year, I’m confident you’ll be fine to Ruth.

  2. I had a melanoma cut out of my shoulder a few years ago, had to have it done twice but thanks goodness they got it all the second time, I regularly have my skin checked every year and am very careful outside in the sun

  3. Huge hole in my thigh from melanoma removal many years ago… Couple of others since … The battle continues….

    • Jill Kelly know what you have gone through. My husband has had 4 melanomas surgical removed. Free at the moment but we have been here before. As you say the battle continues… what else can we do. Hope all is well with you.

  4. Mine was on my left forearm 20+ stitches later, lymph node removed and seven years later all is good. Unfortunately you can’t have radiation on a limb and at that time no chemo was available My left arm is slightly larger than my right due to the lymphatic system not quite working right but hey I am still here👍

  5. Medical research making great strides. I am very pale, so I always wear hat, long sleeves and long trousers in the sun.

  6. Have I or someone I loved experienced melanoma? Yes.

    How was it diagnosed and treated? By GP and surgically removed. That was in 1961 so luck was with us. 😉

  7. I had one removed from the inside of my left elbow. 25 stitches but it hadn’t spread and alls good.

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