Inaugural UK melanoma patient conference bridges gap between doctor and patient

The first ever Melanoma Patient Conference UK has taken place, bringing together experts in dermatology and melanoma with a group of around 200 melanoma patients. 

The driving force behind the conference is Imogen Cheese, melanoma patient and blogger. Imogen started writing her blog Melanoma Rollercoaster in September 2013, around three months after her diagnosis, aiming to keep her family and friends up to date, but also to help other people in the same situation.

The conference is another illustration of the growing voice of cancer patients, and the need for healthcare professionals to treat them as active partners in discussions around clinical decisions and participation in clinical trials.

Leading voices in the melanoma field attended the event, such as Dr Christian Aldridge, member of the British Association of Dermatologists; Gillian Nuttall, founder of Melanoma UK; and Professor Julia Newton-Bishop, professor of dermatology at the University of Leeds.

Topics discussed included the current state of melanoma treatment and the promise of new therapies. The field has been revolutionised in the last few years by the arrival of new drugs such as BMS’ Yervoy and Opdivo and Merck’s Keytruda, bringing hope to patients who would otherwise have a very poor prognosis.

Case studies also highlighted the highs and lows of melanoma patient experiences, and panel discussions gave patients the chance to interact directly with experts in the field.

“The inaugural national Melanoma Patient Conference was a huge success – there were over 250 delegates in attendance comprised of patients, carers and medical professionals,” said Imogen Cheese. “This event has provided patients with hope and with a starting point for communication and information that we aim to continue into the future.”

Conference sponsors Amgen, Merck, Sharp & Dohme, Bristol Myers-Squibb and Novartis were thanked for helping patients to be involved in discussions about their treatment and care options, and Imogen said she hoped the meeting would be repeated in coming years.

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