skin cancer

Melanoma Awareness Month – May 2019

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month and it’s the perfect time of year to review a few easy steps we can all take to Be Sun Safe!

Spread Awareness

Join us in spreading the word about Melanoma Month by using one of our facebook banners as your cover photo! They are available for download HERE:

Sun Safety

Help us share the message about Sun Safety! Download our Sun Safety infographics by clicking on the images below and share with your friends and family!


Examine Your Skin

Learn how to perform a monthly skin self-exam!  When caught early, skin cancer is very treatable.

Patient Support

For those living with melanoma, support can be vital to the healing process. Save Your Skin Foundation provides a collection of resources as well as several ways for patients to connect with others or with private support. If you know someone touched by melanoma, please help them to connect with us.

We provide one-on-one support through Founder Kathy Barnard. We also provide support from other patients and survivors through our initiative “I’m Living Proof”

Click HERE for a summary of the ways you can connect with other patients, survivors, and caregivers touched by melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, and ocular melanoma.

Press Release

If you’re interested in what Save Your Skin is working on for Melanoma Awareness Month, check out our official press release, which includes vital information about melanoma rates in Canada, prevention and detection, and how to support those battling skin cancer.

Public Service Announcement

Click here to watch our new video cut about sun safety and skin cancer awareness:



Stay tuned for more updates throughout May – Melanoma Awareness Month!

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SYSF Collaborates with National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a not-for-profit alliance of 28 leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so patients can live better lives. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision-makers around the world.

Though these guidelines are developed with best practices in use in the United States, the resources do apply to patients and clinicians in Canada (where treatment options and accessibility apply), as confirmed with members of the Save Your Skin Foundation Medical Advisory Board.  Canadian doctors do refer to the NCCN clinical guidelines, and they do support the distribution of NCCN patient guidelines to Canadian patients.

There are guidelines created for many cancers; we have listed below the links to each most relevant to the topic of skin cancer or ocular melanoma, as well as supportive topics such as immunotherapy or treatment side effects, and mental wellness issues and survivorship. NCCN guidelines are easy to read, well illustrated, and a valuable resource for patients, available as online e-booklets, download-able PDF files, or on the “NCCN Guides for Cancer” app for iPhone or Android devices and tablets.

Today marks an exciting day for non-melanoma skin cancer patients, with the release of the new booklet, NCCN Guidelines for Patients®: Squamous Cell Skin Cancer, endorsed by Save Your Skin Foundation, and made possible by funding through the NCCN Foundation®. This new book of patient information explains prevention, diagnosis and treatment for squamous cell skin cancer—the second-most common skin cancer (after basal cell cancer). Squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers are responsible for about 5 million annual incidents of non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States1—making them more prevalent than all other types of cancer combined2. Incidence rates have been rising for squamous cell skin cancer in recent years, particularly in younger people3. (source)

This new booklet explains in detail the diagnosis of squamous cell skin cancer, treatment and procedure options, but it also provides personal accounts from patients who have experienced the SCC journey, as well as treating centres and patient resources such as a list of questions to ask at doctor appointments. Save Your Skin Foundation is pleased to support these new guidelines document, and to help connect patients with the resource, as well as to connect NCCN with patients who so generously shared their perspectives with us for the development of the booklet.

SYSF has every confidence that the new NCCN Guidelines for Squamous Cell Carcinoma will help patients understand and manage their skin cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recommended follow-up routine.  This comprehensive resource gives skin cancer patients a reliable checklist to inform decisions in their care, which is much-needed for this common form of cancer, and even more helpful in the metastatic setting.

We look forward to continued collaboration with NCCN, and will offer our support with any new skin cancer guidelines or updates to existing booklets.

To view the guidelines, please click the links below:

NCCN Guidelines for Patients®: Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

NCCN Guidelines for Patients®: Melanoma

NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines®: Uveal Melanoma

NCCN Guidelines for Patients®: Distress

NCCN Guidelines for Patients®: Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer

New! NCCN Guidelines for Patients Explain How to Recognize and Manage Immunotherapy-Related Toxicities, July 2020:

Click here to view the new NCCN Guidelines for Patients®: Immunotherapy Side Effects series


Virtual Library of NCCN Guidelines® AppAvailable for iPhone/iPad and Android Smartphone/Tablet


February 28, 2019 press release detailing news of the NCCN Guidelines for Patients® ~  Squamous Cell Skin Cancer: New Patient Resource from NCCN Clears up Confusion around Highly Common Type of Skin Cancer

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Best of ASCO: Montréal!

Updated 3-August-2018: Click HERE to find our full report from ASCO 2018!



While we’re finishing up our report on the ASCO Annual Meeting 2018 in Chicago, we’d like to share with you some resources about trials that were discussed at an ASCO satellite meeting: Best of ASCO 2018 Montréal, which took place in Montréal, QC on June 19th, 2018. From 7:50-8:20 pm, Dr. Wilson Miller (McGill) gave a talk entitled “Best of Melanoma,” which highlighted some of the notable melanoma studies discussed at the ASCO annual meeting.

For those interested in more ASCO recaps, Oncology Education has posted video resources, including Dr. Jeffrey Weber (NYU) discussing Checkmate 238, Dr. Max Madu (Netherlands Cancer Institute) on the 8th AJCC melanoma staging system, and a roundtable discussion of ASCO highlights with Dr. Marcus Butler (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre), Dr. John Walker (Alberta Cancer Centre), and Dr. Jason Luke (University of Chicago). These videos are available here, though you will need to register for the Oncology Education website to view them.

Below is a list of some of the trials Dr. Miller presented, with links to the ASCO abstracts for further reading:


Abstract number 9501: “Final analysis of DeCOG-SLT trial: Survival outcomes of complete lymph node dissection in melanoma patients with positive sentinel node.”

Presented at ASCO Annual Meeting, Chicago, in the Melanoma/Skin Cancers Oral Abstract Session (Monday, June 4, 8:00-11:00 AM).

Authors: Ulrike M. Leiter et al.

Retrieved from:

The DeCOG-SLT trial assessed whether complete lymph node dissection can result in increased survival compared with observation in patients with positive sentinel node biopsy in a randomized phase III trial. The update presented at ASCO 2018 comes three years after the inclusion of the last patient. After the median 72-month follow-up time, there seemed to be no survival benefit in patients with positive sentinel node biopsy with complete lymph node dissection, compared to observation. More information about the methods and results of the study can be found at the link above.


Abstract number 9503: “4-year Survival and Outcomes After Cessation of Pembrolizumab (pembro) after 2-years in Patients (pts) with Ipilimumab (ipi)-naive Advanced Melanoma in KEYNOTE-006 [NCT01866319]”

Presented at ASCO Annual Meeting, Chicago, in the Melanoma/Skin Cancers Oral Abstract Session (Monday, June 4, 8:00-11:00 AM).

Authors: Georgina V. Long et al.

Retrieved from:

The KEYNOTE-006, or NTO1866319, sought to establish the efficacy of pembrolizumab over ipilimumab in advanced melanoma. The data includes four year outcomes, long term data for patients who have completed two years of pembro, and data for second course. The results suggest that pembrolizumab can provide durable anti-tumour activity in treatment-naive or previously treated patients. 86% of the patients who had completed two years of pembro were progression free at 20 months. The data suggests that pembro is safe, and can be used as a second-course treatment to provide additional anti-tumour activity. For more information, see the link above.


Abstract number 9594: “Assessing the Value of Nivolumab (NIVO) versus Placebo (PBO) and Ipilimumab (IPI) as Adjuvant Therapy for Resected Melanoma [EORTC 18071]

Presented at ASCO Annual Meeting, Chicago, in the Melanoma/Skin Cancers Oral Abstract Session (Monday, June 4, 8:00-11:00 AM).

Authors: Morganna Louise Freeman et al.

Retrieved from:

This study assessed the cost of cancer therapies in the context of clinical benefits. Data from CheckMate 238 and EORTC 18071 (nivolumab) was compared to placebo and ipilimumab in the adjuvant setting for patients with resected melanoma was used to consider the cost for each recurrence-free life month (RFLM) and associated medical costs. They found that nivo has a lower medical cost per RFLM than both placebo and ipi in patients with resected IIIB and IIIC cutaneous melanoma, and has superior drug costs per RFLM relative to placebo and ipi over eighteen months. Data suggests that follow-up will continue to determine the cost-effectiveness of adjuvant NIVO. For methods, results, and outcome measures, see the link above.


Abstract number 9502: “Adjuvant Therapy with Nivolumab (NIVO) versus Ipilimumab (IPI) After Complete Resection of Stage III/IV Melanoma: Updated Results from a Phase III Trial (CheckMate 238)”

Presented at ASCO Annual Meeting, Chicago, in the Melanoma/Skin Cancers Oral Abstract Session (Monday, June 4, 8:00-11:00 AM).

Authors: Jeffrey S. Weber et al.

Retrieved from:

With a minimum follow-up of 18 months, the initial report data from the CheckMate 238 trial demonstrated that nivolumab had longer recurrence-free survival over ipilimumab in patients with resected stage III or IV melanoma. At ASCO, phase III data with an additional six months of follow-up was reported. With this extended follow-up, nivo continued to demonstrated a sustained benefit versus ipi for patients with resected stage III/IV melanoma at a high risk of recurrence, PD-L1 expression, or BRAF mutation. More information can be retrieved at the link above.


Abstract number 9514: “Phase II Trial of Pembrolizumab (pembro) plus 1 mg/kg Ipilimumab (ipi) Immediately Following Progression on Anti-PD-1 Ab in Melanoma (mel)”

Presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting 2018, Chicago, in the Melanoma/Skin Cancer Poster Session (Monday, June 4, 1:15-4:45 PM).

Authors: Daniel Olsen et al.

Retrieved from:

This study sought to examine the role of the immunotherapy anti-PD-1 + CTLA-4 combination after the first line anti-PD-1. They are reporting the first potential data examining pembrolizumab + low dose ipilimumab following progression on anti-PD-1. The results suggest that low dose ipi + pembro is tolerable and has anti-tumour activity in melanoma patients who have progressed on an anti-PD-1 immediately prior. For more information on this abstract and ongoing trial, see the link above.


Abstract number 9542: “BRAF/MEK Inhibition in Melanoma Patients with Rare BRAF Mutations”

Presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting 2018, Chicago, in the Melanoma/Skin Cancer Poster Session (Monday, June 4, 1:15-4:45 PM).

Authors: Jessica Cecile Hassel et al.

Retrieved from:

This study uncovered efficacy data for BRAF/MEK inhibition, which is standard care for patients with BRAF V600E/K mutated melanoma. The results suggest that patients with tate BRAF mutations often respond to targeted therapy. Less likely to respond to BRAFi monotherapy are patients with non-V600 mutations, but MEKi as monotherapy or combined with BRAFi seems more promising for these patients. For more information, including a data breakdown, see the link above.


We hope this information was interesting and helpful– stay tuned to our social media channels for study news, and our upcoming ASCO Annual Meeting 2018 report!

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American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting 2018!

Once again, Save Your Skin attended the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, which took place from June 1-5 at McCormick Place in Chicago. The meeting brought together physicians and oncologists, pharmaceuticals, and patient advocates from all cancer types. ASCO, as an organization and at the conference, creates a space for advocacy networking and education, including spaces for advocates to meet, presentations, and a panel track devoted to patient and survivor care. You can read more about ASCO’s interest in patient education here, and visit for ASCO’s resources for patient education. These patient and survivor care panels, alongside the melanoma and developmental therapeutics offerings, kept us busy throughout the conference.

While we are working on a more extensive ASCO report, we’d like to share some of the highlights from our social media feed and from the ASCO daily news. Stay tuned for more updates, and more detailed descriptions of the panels we attended.






More highlights to be posted over social media and report to come soon! Stay tuned!


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Melanoma Survivorship

“I have mixed emotions on a regular basis. On one hand, I’m so happy and grateful because I found a treatment that is working, but on the other hand I have to live with the fear and anxiety for the rest of my life. It’s always in the back of my mind.”— Danika

While most people understand that being diagnosed with and receiving treatments for cancer is a terrifying ordeal, even if they have not experienced it themselves, many people tend to think that these struggles fade as patients finish their treatments and move into remission. This is not the case; cancer survivors and long-term treatment patients, especially those that have battled melanoma, experience unique challenges. I make this distinction between those who have fought melanoma and those who have fought other cancers because they are a relatively new population: over the past fifteen years, survival melanoma rates have risen considerably due to the advent of biological and immune system repression therapies, or immunotherapies. Whichever medication sees a patient through their treatment process, the end of their battle with cancer does not coincide with the end of their treatment. Depending on their comfort level and the kind of cancer diagnosis, patients undergo check-in tests once every six months, or yearly, for the rest of their lives. Their cancer, and the potential of its return, is a constant shadow.

“I remember not being able to physically climb stairs, but today, after treatment, things are getting better and easier to navigate. I can’t always see what is around the corner, down below or what will be there when I reach the top, but I still take the steps to get there. One step at a time, one day at a time. I feel like every day since my diagnosis four years ago, I still consciously, every day, make the decision to take ‘the steps to get there.’”—Natalie

While life ostensibly begins to return to normal once treatments are finished, this is simply not the case. Reconciling returning to work, if this is even possible, and resuming ‘normal’ relationships with friends and family is difficult when patients have a stretch of time in their memory that is indescribable to those who have not experienced something similar. The anxiety surrounding the return to regularity is exacerbated by these intermittent appointments, which interrupt the progress of rebuilding a ‘normal’ life. As a diagnosis of cancer increases the likelihood that it will return, the fear of recurrence is present in the anticipation of every appointment, and everything else. Life is forever changed.

“Sometimes no matter how tough the journey, there were beautiful days. No cars on the road, and a clear sky. This is how I felt later on in my journey. I started seeing that there is hope.”—Mike

While a cancer diagnosis is never desirable, some good may come out of these experiences. On May 10th, in the midst of Melanoma Awareness Month, Save Your Skin hosted the Giving Hope Gala & Auction. While the evening was a wonderful success, the one of the highlights was Mike, quoted above, colluding with Natalie, also above, to surprise Kathleen Barnard, Founder of Save Your Skin, at the event. The three are close friends, two are colleagues, and all three are melanoma survivors. They met through their diagnoses. They support each other, and create a space where they can talk about their experiences with others who understand. Further, they act as a voice of hope for current melanoma patients. Through our I’m Living Proof initiative, and other programs like it, melanoma survivors are given the opportunity to connect with patients in any stage of their melanoma journey. They are able to mutually support, advise, and give hope to each other. While melanoma survivors may never return to their life exactly as it was before, part of their new lives, hopefully, can be the mutual support of each other and support of patients currently battling melanoma. This Melanoma Awareness Month, we would like to remind you that the melanoma journey doesn’t end for survivors, and that their life after treatment is often vastly different than it was before. They are a valuable population in the melanoma community, and one that is worthy of our continued support.


Mike, Kathleen, and Natalie; Save Your Skin Giving Hope Gala & Auction, 10 May 2018.

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Canada Has A Skin Cancer Problem

This week marks the beginning of our support of the Euro Melanoma campaign: The World Has A Skin Cancer Problem.

While meeting with the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy last year in Australia in conjunction with the World Congress on Melanoma, we learned that the group in Europe (Euro Melanoma) who created this eye-catching campaign were inviting members of the Global Coalition to participate from their home countries.

This campaign will be a platform to explore and highlight the human and financial cost of skin cancer from a macro perspective – around the globe.  Through this conversation they will ask some important questions, about true incidence and mortality rates for all skin cancers, patient care pathways, and what is being done to address primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.  This campaign will highlight the scale of the skin cancer problem and position it as a national epidemic – together, we will awaken ‘the sleeping giant.’

Save Your Skin Foundation is proud to support and share this campaign to increase awareness of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.  We thank Euro Melanoma for their hard work and collaboration, and we appreciate the sponsors and partners of the project.  Watch our social media channels for more on this initiative, and as always, feel free to contact us if you would like more information!

About the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy: Click here to go to their introductory web page.  Save Your Skin is proud to be working with US-based Melanoma Research Foundation and the many other groups in the Coalition.  More on this is developing as we work together from our locations around the world to improve the lives of melanoma patients and their families.  Stay tuned!



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Updating the ABCDE’s of Skin Checks

We have long known that monthly skin self-examination is an important piece of a vigilant routine for a healthy life.  Everyone should check their own skin – and that of their loved ones – for any irregularities or atypical markings, lumps or bumps.  Early detection is key, and can make all the difference in the case of any melanoma OR non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosis.

At the World Congress of Melanoma last fall, we learned that there are two new letters in the traditional ABCDE’s of skin checking: F and G

F for Firmis the mole harder than the surrounding skin?

G for Growingis the mole gradually getting larger? 

As the alphabet of skin-checking grows, so does our awareness of the importance of the following:


A – Asymmetry. The shape of one half does not match the other half.

B – Border that is irregular. The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.

C – Color that is uneven. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.

D – Diameter. There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than 6 millimeters wide (about 1/4 inch wide).

E – Evolving. The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.

F – Firm

G – Growing

Save Your Skin Foundation has developed new post-card style brochures to share this information, which remind us of these helpful tips that could save the skin we’re in.  Check out the images below or on our downloadable resources page, and if you would like to receive some of these cards for your awareness or educational event, please contact and we will send you some!

In the meantime, check your skin – all over! – and ask your doctor about any concerns you may have.


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A Patient’s Perspective on the World Congress of Melanoma

In October I traveled to Brisbane, Australia to attend the 9th World Congress of Melanoma, a joint meeting with the Society for Melanoma Research.  To be there as a melanoma patient was an incredible honour, and to be there as a representative of Save Your Skin Foundation was even more so.  I have been working with Save Your Skin for over a year; after a couple of years of volunteering as a patient advocate and blogger as I recuperated from my surgeries and treatments, I turned my professional interests into full-time support of this Foundation that does so much for melanoma patients.

Ever since I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in 2014, I have been hungry for information about this disease, and I had always wanted to attend this conference – my medical Oncologist can attest to that, as every year I would schedule my appointments with her immediately after the conference so I could grill her about all the latest news.  This year she did not attend, but I did.

It was an incredibly educational and inspiring experience, and I have much to report.  So much so, that I have taken this long to write a blog to update our website, because I have found it to be a great challenge to put into words a summary of all that I learned at the WCM2017.

I will start off by reporting that if, after reading this piece, you still have questions as to specific information you might like to learn more about, please comment below or email me and I can get you details on what you would like to know. 


We can provide you access to watch recordings of many of the sessions I saw in person, plus others that are available on the WCM website.  We will also share this on our social media: should you wish to receive more information than what I am able to summarize in this blog, please reach out and we will provide.

Approximately 1,500 delegates attended this Congress, and they included Medical and Surgical Oncologists, Dermatologists, Skin Specialist-Physicians of varied backgrounds, Researchers, Pharmaceutical Company Reps, General Practitioners, and a smattering of Patient Advocacy Groups (such as SYSF).

At the Opening Ceremonies of the Congress, attendees were given an extensive presentation on the history of melanoma research in Australia and other centres, the epidemiology (the branch of medicine dealing with the incidence and prevalence of disease in large populations and with detection of the source and cause *) of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, and their relation to the carcinogen solar ultra-violet.

It was an interesting account of skin cancer statistics in Australia, and a comparison of melanoma to other skin cancers behaviours, namely their response or reaction to “solar circulating factor.”  In this session I learned that there is a COMPLETE ban of sunbeds in Australia.  I also learned that the Congress was being held in the sunny state of Queensland, Australia, which – sadly – has been dubbed the “melanoma capital of the world.”

As an aside… it was spring-weather cloudy the entire week we were there so there were many jokes throughout the sessions that we were all gathered in the melanoma capital of the world and with no risk of exacerbating any skin cancer what with all the rainy cloudy skies!  There are countless interesting roof and overhead structures all around Brisbane to protect residents from the sun, though that week they served well to protect from the rain.

Also in this address was mentioned the importance of early detection in skin cancer – “delay can be deadly.”  There was discussion of advancement in diagnosis of melanoma in situ, and an update of the efforts of targeted screening for melanoma: targeted screening fails as it only gets a minority of the population – even patients with no risk factors develop melanoma.  Dermatologists and General Practitioners are the real heroes in early recognition, said Dr. Harold Kittler, but also people and their family members are key to prevention and early detection.

Also in this session were introduced the NEW “F and G’s” of the ABCDE’s of skin cancer detection. 

F = Firm and G = Growing.  More on this to come – SYSF is currently updating our materials to reflect the complete ABCDEFG method of skin cancer detection.

I was also pleased to observe an introduction to teledermoscopy and clinical methods including the use of our very own Canadian-invented MoleScope™ – a huge photo of it right up there on the big screen! In the poster displays I also found the published study about MoleScope™ and its use in Canada, for more details please see their website.

Throughout the rest of that day and the next three, I attended sessions which I will list below.  There were so many open for attendance, so I tried my best, but I still didn’t hit all of the ones I would have liked to attend.  I have notes for each, and most are recorded, so enter here the reminder that if you would like more detail on a specific session, please email me any time and I will connect you with the details.  (We are not permitted to post them all openly, plus there are so many we couldn’t possibly fit them all on our website.)

Surgical Oncology: Primary Melanoma Management

Margins of excision, current recommendations and controversies, Follow-up surveillance after wide excision for melanoma, Margins of excision – special situations

Actinic Keratosis: Novel Treatments

New insights into photodynamic therapy

(Note – in a recent meeting with a local Dermatologist I learned that the new and best tool for Derms is photodynamic therapy, but it is not covered in some provinces, namely Ontario)

Treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma – Successes and Opportunities

Molecular landscape of basal cell carcinoma, Management of side effects of hedgehog inhibitors, Beyond hedgehog pathway inhibitors

Advances in Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Early studies of Merkel cell carcinoma: challenges and progress – Symposium, Doctor Helen Leonard

Immunotherapy for MCC: progress and problems – Symposium, Professor Paul Nghiem

This was a fascinating session to attend, as we got to witness first-hand two clinical research teams meeting each other in person for the first time. Dr. Leonard and Dr. Ngheim have been working together for years, and for the first time got to discuss their wok in person.  More on this here: OncLive SMR Coverage: Immunotherapy Infuses New Hope Into Merkel Cell Carcinoma Care


Surgical Oncology: Management of Stage III Metastatic Melanoma

Update of the results from the Multicentre Selective Lymphadenectomy Trial II, Natural history of patients with a positive sentinel node followed with active surveillance, Experience with neoadjuvant therapy for patients with advanced nodal metastases.

This session was personally interesting – and very moving – for me, as I WAS this brand of patient in 2014.  I have read the “new-found” controversy about the very surgery I had (Complete Lymphadenaectomy), and I have often wondered if I really had to have that terrible and invasive surgery to my right groin.  It was the best-known treatment for stage III melanoma at the time, remove the affected lymph nodes and then treat with interferon (in Canada).

I would have appreciated having the option to avoid complete lymph node dissection in favour of systemic therapy.  Systemic therapy (such as the ipilumumab I did end up receiving on a clinical trial in the adjuvant setting) offers alternative to invasive, costly, painful surgery.

I was riveted watching Dr. Coit present his evidence and very passionate argument on this topic.

This session was all about finding balance between medical and surgical oncology and individualized treatment of stage III melanoma, and it will stay with me for a very long time.


Friday and Saturday sessions included these:

Treatment of Advanced Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Risk classification of cutaneous SCC, Systemic therapy of advanced SCC, New approaches in the treatment of advanced SCC (immunotherapy)

Staging, Surgery and Targeted Therapies for Melanoma

The new AJCC melanoma classification, and Surgery for stage 4 melanoma patients: is it still worthwhile?

Fascinating information in these sessions – in fact, in January 2018 the new melanoma staging guidelines will come into effect.  Watch for SYSF to post a blog then and discuss this topic in more detail. It will also be included in our webinar series for 2018.  It is estimated that 6% of stage III melanoma patients will be up-staged due to the new guidelines.

Sunscreen: Bioavailability and Toxicity

Public health implications of sunscreen use, Sunscreen testing in Australia, Should nanoparticles be used in sunscreens? and, Toxicity of zinc oxide particles in sunscreens: myth or fact?

LOTS more to come from Save Your Skin Foundation on this topic as well.  We will bring light to the controversy over the use of sunscreen and how it is more healthful to use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, than to not wear sunscreen and be at risk.


Another moving session was one on a topic consistantly discussed by Save Your Skin Foundation:

Patient Support and Survivorship

Melanoma: A clinician’s perspective, Symposium, Dr. Caroline Robert

Melanoma: a patient perspective, Symposium, Leisa Renwick

The survivorship conundrum, Symposium, Fiona Bennett

Living with melanoma – a patient plan, Symposium, Valerie Guild

Roundtable Discussion including our very own collaborator Dr. Reinhard Dummer


Closing sessions detailed the following:

Future Perspectives and Congress Highlights

Keynote Address: Unsolved questions in melanoma genesis, Genetic testing for skin cancer in 2017 and beyond, Highlights in melanoma from 2017.

It was an honour to see in person the likes of top melanoma researchers and clinicians such as Dr. Axel Hauschild,  Prof. Georgina Long from Society of Melanoma Research, and many other leading physicians in the field.

Some of the highlighted sessions were expanded upon with coverage from the below publication, please feel free to click this link for more articles: OncLive Coverage of SMR 2017

Following the closing sessions of the World Congress of Melanoma I worked with the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy for an additional day and a half, on initiatives that will be supportive of the melanoma patient population around in the world in 2018.  More to come on that!

For more information on anything you have read here, please feel free to contact

And a generous thanks to our sponsors ~ Funding for my travel to and attendance at the WCM2017 was provided in part by the generous funders of Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy, Melanoma Research Foundation, and Save Your Skin Foundation.  My deep gratitude for the opportunity to attend this event is echoed by my dedication to the patients who need the information I learned.
Thank you!


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SYSF Attends ESMO 2017 Congress

September 8-12, 2017, Kathy Barnard attended the ESMO 2017 Congress, European Society for Medical Oncology, in Madrid Spain.  In partnership with the European Association for Cancer Research, ESMO brought cancer researchers and clinicians together to enable collaboration and the exchange of ideas, from the laboratory to the bedside and back. This exciting partnership creates a unique cancer congress in Europe with huge scientific reach and the true potential to improve the lives of cancer patients.

With her, Kathy brought home the latest in news about melanoma and other skin cancers, as summarized in this report: ESMO 2017 Congress – Melanoma Highlights.

View or download the report HERE for details about the following:

Plenary Sessions
Adjuvant dabrafenib plus trametinib significantly lowers risk of death in stage III BRAF V600–mutated melanoma
BRIM8 data shows benefit with adjuvant vemurafenib in resected BRAFV600 positive melanoma
Nivolumab bests ipilimumab as adjuvant therapy in resected melanoma

Article from ESMO Daily Reporter
Practice-changing phase III data in melanoma patients cause excitement at a Presidential Symposium

Links to Press Releases
ESMO 2017 Press Release: Combination Targeted Adjuvant Therapy Doubles Relapse-free Survival in Stage III Melanoma
ESMO 2017 Press Release: Adjuvant Nivolumab Superior to Ipilimumab in Surgically Resected Stage III/IV Melanoma

Poster Submissions

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Melanoma Patient Survey for World Mental Health Day

A cancer diagnosis of any kind takes a toll on the mental health of those who receive it; feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression are common while adjusting to the uncertainty of a new life with cancer. World Mental Health day is October 10, and this year Save Your Skin Foundation is hoping to shed some light on the affects of a melanoma diagnosis on the mental health of patients and survivors.

By taking our survey anonymously, as either a patient or survivor, you will be providing us with insight regarding the need for emotional support among those diagnosed with melanoma, how these needs change in the transition period from patient to survivor, and how to provide the best support possible for anyone in this process.

We appreciate your taking this survey before September 25, and hope that you will share it with anyone you may know who has experienced a melanoma diagnosis. With your help, we hope to improve the ways we address mental health support for melanoma patients.  Stay tuned for the report we will compile from the survey! The survey is now closed, thank you for your feedback. 

Updated October 10, 2017: Please click here to read the report ~ SYSF Survey: Melanoma Patients and Mental Health, 2017


More information about World Mental Health Day can be found here.

For any questions or additional information, please feel free to contact us.

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