Prevention, let's talk about melanoma - la Repubblica

Prevention, let's talk about melanoma - la Repubblica

For patients with melanoma, especially those with advanced disease, an oncologist is not enough. We need the contribution of the nutritionist, the psychologist, the geneticist, just to give some examples. "The nutritionist, because today we know that especially in the case of immunotherapy there is a strong correlation between the efficacy of therapies and obesity", explains Paola Queirolo, director of the Melanoma, Sarcoma and Rare Tumors Division at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) from Milan. From the psychologist because advanced disease puts people, their quality of life, relationships to the test; and the geneticist because 10% of patients affected by a melanoma have at least one first-degree relative with the same neoplasm. In total, these cases amount to over 1,200 a year in Italy alone. So anyone who has a parent or sibling with skin cancer must be able to carry out genetic tests to check for the presence of mutations most frequently associated with "familial" melanoma. This and more will be discussed on 30 June during the Mela Talk Connected, a free initiative open to the population.

Genetic tests

“The initiative was born from the belief that knowing the disease is a fundamental tool in the treatment process – says Paola Queirolo, who is also the Scientific Director of 'Mela Talk'. We need to start with prevention which cannot only be primary and therefore linked to the correct behaviors to follow when we expose ourselves to the sun. It must also affect those people considered at risk, starting with those who have a genetic predisposition to the disease. Through a simple blood draw, and a subsequent examination, we can verify the probability of developing melanoma". Anyone found to be a carrier of a specific mutation must undergo periodic checks of moles with advanced methods that allow for the recording and comparison of images from one visit to another, as well as anyone with a first-degree relative with melanoma. It is important to note that the mutation that increases the risk of developing melanoma also increases the risk of pancreatic cancer and for this reason too the patient must be kept under control.

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The initiative

The event is now in its fourth edition and sees specialists and patient associations together to discuss and answer the doubts and questions of patients and caregivers. The ultimate goal is to start a discussion on all the various issues inherent in this pathology: the correct lifestyles before and after the diagnosis, the emotional-psychological aspects, the role of nutrition and the latest diagnostic-therapeutic innovations. The Mela Talk enjoys the patronage of AIMa.Me. (Italian Association of Melanoma Patients), APaIM (Italian Melanoma Patients Association), Emme Rouge Onlus and MiO (Melanoma Italia Onlus) and is presented today in an online press conference. The project is realized with the unconditional contribution of Bristol Myers Squibb.

Psychological help

Melanoma is the third most frequent cancer among the under 50s in our country. Assistance to people, often in the middle of their working and family life, cannot therefore be solely and exclusively medical. “There is an increasing need for qualified support also from other specialists such as the psycho-oncologist who is not always effectively present and available. He is a professional who can help the patient and set him on a virtuous path that must start from awareness of the disease to optimism”, adds Monica Forchetta, President of APAIM.

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Improve survival

Melanoma in 2023 recorded 12,700 new cases in Italy for a total of over 169 thousand living people with a diagnosis. Five-year survival after diagnosis is 88% for men and 91% for women. “The turning point against the disease has been recorded in recent years thanks to the introduction of targeted therapies and immunotherapy – adds Queirolo -. New and interesting evidence has emerged on the latter type of treatment in the last international oncology congresses. In particular, there are data on metastatic patients treated with ipilimumab, anti PD-1 or the combination of these, for which we can even start talking about recovery from the disease. Positive results are also recorded for the combination of nivolumab with the anti LAG-3 antibody (relatlimab) again for the treatment of metastatic tumours. There are fewer side effects and the therapy can also be used in the adjuvant phase of the disease. Research therefore continues in all areas also, for example, in the evaluation of factors that can influence the effectiveness of drugs”.
“As patient associations we are committed to guaranteeing everyone qualified assistance which cannot be limited only to the administration of treatments as will clearly emerge from the next Mela Talk – concludes Forchetta -. In particular, we complain about the presence and availability of psychologists and nutritionists in the oncology departments. This is what is foreseen by almost all the diagnostic therapeutic assistance paths of the individual hospitals ".

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