Skin Cancer

It is estimated that almost 2 in 3 Australian will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70. Each year in Australia, skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers. 

The majority of skin cancers are caused by damage to skin cells through over-exposure to UV radiation in sunlight. Of the three main types of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma), melanoma is  the most dangerous. An estimated 13,000 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in 2016, and 1770 people were estimated to die from the disease (AIHW, 2016).

Regular skin checks are recommended to monitor for pre-cancerous changes and skin cancers. Treatment usually involves removal of the lesion, and in some cases, may require removal of some surrounding tissue to ensure all cancer cells have been taken out. 

The earlier a skin cancer can be identified and treated, the better - reducing the chances of surgery, or in the case of more dangerous skin cancers such as melanoma, potential disfigurement and even death. 

To improve diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers, a number of groups at TRI are undertaking research projects on melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.  

Identifying and tracking skin cancers and lesions using 3D digital avatars

Supported by a grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Professor H Peter Soyer (UQ) established the ACRF Australian Centre of Excellence in Melanoma Imaging and Diagnosis. This centre will utilise a cutting-edge, whole-body imaging system to rapidly create a patient’s ‘digital avatar’ in milliseconds - to significantly improve lesion identification and tracking, while greatly reducing appointment times and healthcare costs. Learn more about this project here.

With this grant, 15 of the 3D whole body imaging machines to capital and regional centres across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria (with the potential to expand the network Australia-wide). The centre is a collaboration between The University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, Monash University, and the Translational Research Institute Australia, together with state-based research and health system partners. Read more.  

Cutting off melanoma's escape routes

Professor Kiarash Khosrotehrani and his team from UQ's Diamantina Institute are investigating how to stop melanoma from spreading to other parts of the body. They have found that by 'switching off' stem cells which form blood vessels in tumours, this may help to inhibit the spread of cancer. Find out more

Other projects

  • Professor Nicholas Saunders (UQ) is working on project to reverse drug resistance in squamous cell carcinoma. By adding a new drug to existing treatment makes cancer cells more responsive to treatment, this may enable lower dose chemotherapy and reduced side effects. Read more
  • Associate Professor Brian Gabrielli (UQ) and his group are researching melanoma, its causes, means of early detection and diagnosis where cures rate are very high. He is also investigating new drugs for late stage disease where the outcome is dismal. They are working in collaboration with Professor Peter Soyer’s clinical team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and colleagues from across Brisbane on a new non-invasive tool that will diagnose early stage melanoma. His team has developed powerful new technologies to identify new genes that are involved in early stage melanoma and which can be targeted in late stage disease to improve patient survival.
  • Prof Nikolas Haas (UQ) is working on a project to enhance the immune system's anti-tumour responses in melanoma. Read more
  • Researchers at the UQ Diamantina Institute are investigating the role of the skin microbiome in development and progression of skin cancers.

Dermatology Research Centre

The University of Queensland's Dermatology Research Centre is based at TRI. The team  are investigating improved diagnosis and surveillance of skin lesions and skin cancer, as well as identifying genes associated with increased skin cancer risk. Read more about their current projects

Recent articles from the Dermatology Research Centre:

Key Researchers
Ian Frazer
Jatin Patel
Katharina Noske
Nicholas Andrew Saunders
Pascal Duijf
Rick Sturm
Andrew Barbour
Brian Giulio Gabrielli
Fiona Simpson
Helmut Schaider
Kiarash Khosrotehrani
Nikolas Haass
Soyer Peter
Show More ...
Mathematics maps lifecycle of melanoma in new biotech experiments TRI-based QUT and UQDI researchers, including Gency Gunasingh and Nikolas Haass, are part of a team leading the world in new...Read more
Immune cells Found to attack melanoma Researchers investigating a recently discovered type of immune cells have discovered they can halt the rapid development of melanoma lesions. A TRI-based team...Read more
World-first skin cancer treatment aims to help transplant patients A new medication which can be applied to the skin could help prevent organ transplant recipients from developing harmful skin...Read more
Improving genetic testing for skin cancer Genetic researcher and counsellor, Dr Aideen McInerney-Leo is leading a series of multifaceted studies aimed at improving genetic testing for skin cancer ...Read more
An arsenal of proteins used by many cell types to communicate with and control other cells could hold the answers to treating a multitude of diseases, especially cancer. The University of Queensland...Read more
University of Queensland (UQ) researchers based at TRI are unlocking the secrets of melanoma cells to identify potential new drug targets and personalised treatment regimens for patients with the...Read more
Australians with melanoma detected before they turn 40 are more likely to have the cancer on non-sun damaged parts of the body compared to people diagnosed when older. University of Queensland...Read more
Over $5.9 million in NHMRC funding awarded to TRI-based researchers for 2019 In the latest round of NHMRC funding announced this month, TRI-based researchers from UQ, QUT and Mater-UQ have secured...Read more
Bold bid to beat melanoma gets $10 million boost ACRF funding awarded to revolutionise early detection of melanoma UQ Professor H. Peter Soyer has been awarded $10 million by the Australian Cancer...Read more
Researchers show aspirin added to cancer drug improves effectiveness Adding aspirin to some existing cancer drugs could increase their effectiveness against a group of tumours resistant to treatment...Read more