The second UK Melanoma Patient Conference

A summary by Professor Julia Newton-Bishop

The second Melanoma Patient Conference took place in Birmingham this year on June 16th and 17th. It was expertly organised (as was the first ever conference) by Imogen Cheese. It was very well attended by people who have experienced melanoma themselves or in their families, and representatives of the charities created to support melanoma patients. The speakers included medical staff treating melanoma patients, patients themselves and researchers. I think that this is a wonderful, and much needed event and I sincerely hope that it will continue and grow, supporting patients and enabling empowerment.

Filmed presentations are available on YouTube if you search for MPCUK2017. These include “Patient Voices” which, from the number of views recorded already, are very valuable.


The next UK Melanoma Patient Conference will take place on Friday and Saturday June 22nd and 23rd 2018. Registration will open in January 2018 and e-mail enquiries via




How we in Leeds access on-going healthcare data about our research participants


The following information is provided for participants who consented to long-term follow up using information provided by Cancer Registries and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) as part of these studies:


The Melanoma Follow-Up and Case-Control Family Study. Ethics Committee number: MREC 01/3/057

A Genetic Epidemiological Study of Melanoma to Investigate The Protective Role Of Vitamin D For Relapse. Ethics Committee number: MREC 07/H1010/66

Vitamin D & Immunity in Melanoma: a study of the role of vitamin D3 and inflammation in immune reactions to cancer cells      REC reference:13/YH/0237

Developing a Blood Test of Immunity in Illness: A study examining the peripheral blood transcriptome in patients with cancer, autoimmune disease, immunodeficiency or iatrogenic immune suppression. (The Peripheral Blood Transcriptome Study) MREC Ref: 15NW/0933


Why are we providing this information?

Participants in the four studies listed above were asked to consent to the use of information from the cancer registries and the Office of National Statistics about their health.


The way in which this information is supplied to researchers has changed and this information is intended to update participants so they know exactly what is entailed.



Why is this important to know?

The changes include ensuring greater transparency about how personal data (information such as cause of death or a new diagnosis of cancer) is handled. In other words, it is now crucial that participants in research studies know where researchers get data about them from, why they want it and what they do with those data. The organisation handling these data in the UK is now known as NHS Digital.

The information below is designed to make it clearer to melanoma patients taking part in the above studies (and/or their relatives) just how their data will be managed by NHS Digital and the University of Leeds in the future.


What data do we get from NHS Digital?

NHS Digital collect data about NHS patients and their illnesses. Research groups like ours can apply to NHS Digital to have some of those data for our research. The research studies, listed above, managed by the University of Leeds, were designed to look at a number of lifestyle factors in melanoma patients and how those factors might affect their health. We get most of this information directly from each patient but we also need to collect data from NHS Digital about two important aspects: Firstly; whether participants have had new cancers, and if so what type(s) and when were they diagnosed, and secondly; if they die, what was their cause of death and when did their death occur.


Why do we want this data?

Knowing these facts allows the research group to determine whether people who have had melanoma live for different period of time after diagnosis according to their lifestyle. Melanoma specialists can subsequently better advise melanoma patients on what lifestyle factors to adopt or avoid. Using NHS Digital is the best way of obtaining accurate data without accessing medical records held by GPs or hospitals and without repeatedly contacting the study participants.


What do we do with this data and how do we look after it?

Any data obtained can only be used for the purpose described in the participant information leaflet for that study. The data which are identifiable, including name and NHS number, will be seen only by a University of Leeds employee who will link the data provided by NHS Digital to the data collected directly from each participant by the research group. The staff analysing the research data cannot see that personal information. For both melanoma studies, we will seek information from NHS Digital until 2018 only. We will retain the research data but delete identifying information such as names, date of birth (we will use age at diagnosis in our analyses), addresses and NHS numbers.


What actually happens?


  • The research group in Leeds (led by Professor Newton-Bishop) will request information about cancers registered or death (as mentioned above).
    • The name, date of birth, sex, and where possible the NHS number of each participant is given securely to NHS Digital.
  • NHS Digital then supply any information they hold, such as registration of another cancer diagnosis, to the Senior Data Manager (currently May Chan).
  • That Senior Data Manager will add the new information to an existing master research record of the relevant patient. This research record is stored in a restricted database in a restricted area of the University of Leeds computer system. Only the Data Manager and a Research Nurse can access this database.
  • The data analysts and scientists working on the project will then ask for these data to enable their analysis. They make a formal request (via an application form) to a data access team comprised of; the Senior Data Manager and the Head of the Institute, who will review the application and if satisfied prepare and release only the necessary sections of the data. For example, the data will be labelled with a study number only.
  • In 2018, we will remove all names, dates of birth, addresses and other contact information from the master records so that the resource can be used in the future without risk to the confidentiality of participants.



What to do if you have concerns about asking NHS Digital for information

If you have any concerns then contact research nurse Christy Walker or Professor Newton-Bishop by email, or telephone 01132064575. Withdrawal from the study is possible at any stage. You may decide to withdraw only from further data collection via NHS Digital but stay in the study or you may in fact choose to withdraw all your data. If you chose to have your data destroyed, we will destroy all the data we hold, although we would not always be able to remove data already analysed.



Launch of Patient Decision Aid

Melanoma Focus ( has launched its Patient Decision Aid (PDA), whose aim is to inform people about melanoma and guide patients through the decisions they will need to take during their treatment.

By helping people to understand their options, this new online tool should improve the effectiveness of conversations between melanoma specialists and their patients.

The PDA may be accessed via Melanoma Focus hope clinicians and nurses will tell their patients about it.

Could you give 15 minutes of your time and a blood sample to help our research?

Are you based in Leeds?

We are a melanoma research group led by Professor JA Newton-Bishop and we aim to develop a blood test that measures immune function.

We are doing this by comparing the genetic information in the immune cells of individuals who have illnesses that affect the immune system such as cancer and inflammatory disease.

Crucially, we need to establish what is ‘normal’ genetic information in immune cells and we will do this by looking at the blood of healthy people.

We need volunteers to donate 21ml of blood, answer a short health questionnaire and have basic measurements taken such as height, weight and blood pressure.
You could help us if you are:
·         Aged 18-66 (70 if have previously given blood)


Unfortunately we are unable to recruit people to this study who:
·         Have suffered with cancer in the last 5 years
·         Have an auto-immune disease (such as Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis)
·         Have diabetes
·         Have significant cardiovascular disease
·         Have any infectious illness such as TB, Hepatitis or HIV


See our website for further information and to book an appointment with a researcher to take part:

We are currently recruiting from St James’s hospital. If you are based at LGI or the University and are keen to volunteer please contact our researchers via the website and we can arrange to come and see you closer to your work place.

Thank you in advance for your help,

Yours faithfully,

Dr Sarah Craig
Academic Clinical Fellow

Christy Walker
Senior Research Nurse

On behalf of:
Professor Julia Newton-Bishop
Professor of Dermatology
Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Option Grids: information for melanoma patients

NICE has worked with Option Grid and UK dermatologists Jason Thomson and Jane McGregor, to produce information for melanoma patients and their medical teams. The information is provided in the form of Option Grids which allow consideration of the potential advantages and disadvantages of given medical procedures or treatments. The new grids relate to sentinel node biopsy and whether or not to have regular CT (body) scans after their melanoma diagnosis.

Option Grid Sentinel Node Biopsy yes or no

Option Grid Completion Lymphadenectomy yes or no

Option Grid. Follow up with regular CT scans Yes or No

BAP1: a newly recognised melanoma gene

GenoMEL has some new information in the Information for Patients section, on a rare inherited genetic mutation which increases the risk of melanoma in some families. The appearance of the moles and the melanomas in these families can be unusual and affected families are also at increased risk of other cancers such as mesothelioma and eye (uveal) melanoma.