The future of skin cancer diagnosis and treatment

Australia has one of the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world, with two in three Australians diagnosed with a form of skin cancer, melanoma or basal (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by the time they are 70 years old. As our research uncovers new knowledge of skin cancers, we will move towards improved prevention and early detection targeted to high risk patients, as well as improved management and treatments.

Skin cancer research in the UQ Faculty of Medicine investigates all aspects and stages of skin cancer from the effects of ultraviolet radiation and sun-damage and genetic susceptibility, to the formation of mutations that lead to cancer, the immune response during this process and finally the molecular pathways that lead to advance disease with an emphasis on how to block them. This fundamental science is feeding a translation and implementation pipeline bringing these new concepts and discovery to the clinic at a rapid pace as many of the UQ researchers are active clinicians in the field of dermatology and oncology.

The Dermatology Research Centre, established in 2007, is Queensland's first research unit led by specialist dermatologists. This joint initiative between UQ and the Queensland Skin and Cancer Foundation utilises state-of-the-art research infrastructure at the Translational Research Institute (TRI).

UQ skin and skin cancer researchers together with QIMR Berghofer have also formed the Australian Skin & Skin Cancer (ASSC) Research Centre which brings together 40 groups of researchers around these common themes. They collaborate closely with the Queensland Melanoma Collaborative and a special emphasis is placed on the patient experience, measured by survival, morbidity and patient satisfaction.

Research strengths

  • Expert knowledge of the skin immune system, and its regulation by skin resident bacteria and viruses.
  • Translational naevus research (Naevus CRE & Telehealth CRE)
  • Clinico-pathologic-molecular correlations in naevi (commonly known as moles) for improving early melanoma detection
  • Rapid translation of novel technologies by bridging medicine, molecular biology and engineering
  • Large population collections of well phenotyped patients, including pigmentation, naevus and melanoma
  • Investigating drug resistance in melanoma
  • Involvement in multicentre and local Phase I-III trials for patients with primary and metastatic melanoma
  • Investigating drug resistance in melanoma
  • Investigating the biology of tumour heterogeneity and cell cycle-dependent drug sensitivity with the goal to develop novel therapeutic approaches for melanoma.

Skin cancer research leaders