Canadians with advanced skin cancer share
their disease journey in empowering photo series:
Melanoma Through My Lens
Campaign aims to raise awareness about different forms of the life-threatening skin cancer and its impact on patients and their families
TORONTO – August 17, 2016 – In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Save Your Skin Foundation, the organization, in collaboration with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., has launched a unique awareness campaign called Melanoma Through My Lens. The campaign centres around a compelling photo series, the Melanoma Through My Lens Reflection Project, which is entirely created by six Canadians from across the country, living with advanced melanoma, who creatively showcase their own personal journey with the disease – from diagnosis to today, through a unique photo e-book that is available online at www.saveyourskin.ca
The campaign aims to kick-start a public conversation about advanced melanoma, the patient journey and to raise awareness about the various gene mutations involved with it to empower Canadians to know more about the disease. A change in a gene is called a gene mutation, which can disrupt normal development or cause a medical condition.i The disease can vary from person to person because of gene mutations that may be present in melanoma cells, and that are unique to each person.ii In fact, melanoma is one of the cancers with the highest frequency of genetic mutations.iii While the BRAF mutation is the most common mutation in advanced melanoma, other known mutations include NRAS and c-KIT.iv
“Every advanced melanoma patient lives their own journey in a very personal and profound way. The moment you get that diagnosis, it is life-altering for you and everyone in your circle,” said Kathy Barnard, Founder and President of the Save Your Skin Foundation and herself a 10-year survivor of the disease. “Patients and their families go through so much; it’s literally like a roller coaster ride. When I was first diagnosed I felt alone. This is why I created the Foundation in the first place. Through this campaign we want to raise awareness of the advanced melanoma journey and let other advanced melanoma patients know they are not alone.”
Know Yourself, Know Your Options
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, accounting for an estimated eight per cent of cases of skin cancer in Canada but approximately 70 per cent of deaths from the disease in 2014.v
If left untreated, melanoma can spread or metastasize to other parts of the body, such as the brain, bones, liver, and lungs and is known as metastatic melanoma.vi When it cannot be fully removed by surgery, it is called unresectable melanoma. Both metastatic and unresectable melanoma are forms of advanced melanoma.vii Until recently, advanced melanoma was a disease with limited treatment options and a poor prognosis.viii
“Our knowledge of, and ability to treat, advanced melanoma has advanced significantly in the last few years, in large part because of our knowledge of different gene mutations that can cause the disease,” said Dr. Marcus Butler, Oncologist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. “Though the diagnosis is still devastating, these advances allow us to offer real hope to patients when they embark on this difficult journey. It is important for Canadians to know the disease they are dealing with, know their genetic make-up and know their options, which is where campaigns such as this play a key role.”
Melanoma accounts for about three per cent of all new cancer cases, placing it among the top 10 cancers diagnosed in Canada.ix An estimated 6,800 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma last year.x It is also estimated that in 2015, 1,150 Canadians died from their melanoma.xi
For more information about melanoma and the different gene mutations that can play a role in the disease, visit www.melanomajustgotpersonal.ca and www.saveyourskin.ca
About the Save Your Skin Foundation
The Save Your Skin Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to the areas of skin cancer and skin disease with a focus on education and awareness, supporting research and ensuring equal and timely access to treatment for all Canadians. Please visit www.saveyourskin.ca for more information.
SYSF Media Relations:
Save Your Skin Foundation
i Canadian Cancer Society. Genes and cancer. Available at: http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/what-iscancer/genes-and-cancer/?region=sk.
ii American Cancer Society, Melanoma Skin Cancer 2015, pg. 10, A.
iii Watson IR et a, Emerging patterns of somatic mutations in cancer, Nat Rev Genet. 2013 October; 14(10): 703–718, Author manuscript pg. 6, A.
iv National Cancer Institute, Melanoma Treatment for Health Professionals, 2015, pg. 1-2.
v Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014, Chapter 7, Special Topic: Skin Cancers, pp. 77, Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society; 2014.
vi ACS Melanoma Skin Cancer 2015, pg. 26 B and 1, A.
vii ACS Melanoma Skin Cancer 2015, pg. 42, A; NCCN Guidelines for Patients_Melanoma_V1_2014_pg1-108, pg. 76, A.
viii Kushnir I_The evolution in melanoma treatment as a reflection of precision-oriented medicine_ Pg1-5_2013, pg. 2, A.
ix Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014, Chapter 7, Special Topic: Skin Cancers, p. 78, Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society; 2014.
x Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015, p. 25 and 47, Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society; 2015.