Billed as one of the most comprehensive melanoma conference of the decade, Melanoma 2010 attracted a major gathering of more than 950 international melanoma and skin cancer experts in Sydney.
Co-convenor of the Congress, and Senior Principal Research Fellow at Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Professor Nick Hayward, highlighted the importance of the event in tackling Australia’s ‘national cancer’.
“With more than 10,000 Australians diagnosed with melanoma each year and 1,200 dying from the cancer, the Melanoma Research Congress series is incredibly important in bringing experts together to discuss new molecular therapies to treat this disease,” Professor Hayward said.
“A clear highlight of the event was the opportunity to showcase major clinical trial results which have provided the biggest breakthrough in melanoma treatment in 50 years. We revealed new drugs under development which may provide the first effective treatments for advanced forms of the disease.
“This gave people who live with this terrible disease a renewed hope that a treatment might be in reach. Before now, hope of a cure was far off.
“It's extremely exciting, and really reinvigorated interest in melanoma treatment – both clinically and fundamentally. The conference helped to revive an interest to work in the field, and at the same time demonstrated that Australia is at the forefront of the research effort,” he said.
This was the first time this prestigious congress had been held in Australia, since the start of the annual series in 2003. Professor Hayward puts Australia’s success at being selected as the host nation in part down to the significant medical expertise and research facilities located here dedicated to finding ways to improve treatment for melanoma patients.
The Congress was hosted by the Melanoma Institute of Australia, the world's largest research and treatment facility of its kind, which has the latest clinical research and access to some of the best clinicians from Australia and around the world.
Melanoma 2010 integrated a careful combination of four independently structured meetings, with each oriented to a specific audience, but providing great opportunities for cross specialty exchange of knowledge and ideas.
“It was great exposure for the societies represented – the Society of Melanoma Research, Melanoma Pathology Working Group, and Melanoma and Skin Cancer Centres. It was a good opportunity to raise the profile of these societies and that has attracted more members into them.
“We were also able to create a unique new forum – the Melanoma Update for Primary Care Clinicians – designed to provide an update on what’s new in the field and provide specialised training and tutorials targeted to general practitioners,” Professor Hayward said.
While in Sydney, delegates had an opportunity to continue to build valuable networks and enjoy some unique local experiences through carefully organised and very well attended social events – including dinners, a Captain Cook Starlight Cruise and a performance at the Opera House.
The Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre provided ideal facilities for the Congress and was described by Professor Hayward as a fantastic venue.
“Historically the congress has been held in city hotels, which sometimes have limitations on the delegate numbers and on the ability to deliver five star service. The general service of the Sydney Convention Centre was impressive and the people who attended were very happy; the feedback was excellent,” Professor Hayward said.