Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Southern Highlands Branch 2020-1

Professor John ThompsonRadoll“Controlling the Australian Melanoma Epidemic”

Professor John Thompson AO
Melanoma Institute and University of Sydney

Date: Thursday, 20 February 2020 
Venue: Face-to-face in Mittagong, NSW.


Melanoma is a serious, often fatal form of skin cancer. Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidence rates of melanoma in the world, and it could justifiably be regarded as an epidemic (particularly in older men). The lifetime risk of melanoma in Australia (to age 85) is now 1 in 13 for men and 1 in 21 for women. Both in Australia and worldwide, the melanoma incidence in fair-skinned races has been increasing steadily for more than 30 years, with lifestyle changes the most likely reason.

Efforts to control the melanoma epidemic and its impact on individuals and society (by causing death) are proceeding on several fronts:

  • Primary prevention – The “Slip, Slop, Slap” campaign (Clothing, sunscreen, shade), lifestyle modification (e.g. banning of solaria);
  • Early diagnosis – Better education of doctors and the population at large;
  • Effective initial treatment (surgical) – National evidence-based guidelines (Cancer Council Australia and Melanoma Institute Australia) available on the Cancer Council Australia website ;
  • “Adjuvant” drug therapy – for high-risk patients;
  • Better drugs for advanced disease – when melanoma has spread to distant sites; and
  • Ongoing basic research, translational research and clinical trials.


Professor John Thompson  is is Professor of Melanoma and Surgical Oncology at The University of Sydney. He was the Director of Sydney Melanoma Unit from 1998 and thereafter Executive Director of Melanoma Institute Australia until the end of 2016. He was a member of the Board of Directors on inception of the company in 2007 until December 2016. He is author of over 700 peer-reviewed scientific articles and holds positions on the editorial boards of several international journals.

Prof Thompson is a past President of the International Sentinel Node Society, and was Chairman of the Australian and New Zealand Melanoma Trials Group for 15 years. He is a member of the Melanoma Staging Committee of the American Joint Committee on Cancer, and chairs the Working Group that is updating the Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Cutaneous Melanoma. He is an Honorary Fellow of the American Surgical Association and the American College of Surgeons, and was made an Inaugural Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences in 2015. He was the winner of the prestigious 2018 RPA Foundation Research Medal for his outstanding contribution and dedication to melanoma treatment and research.

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