Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC) applauds governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan for funding first personalized treatment for metastatic melanoma

~ MNC wishes the Quebec government would take the same steps to allow patients access to this medical breakthrough in the treatment of metastatic melanoma ~

MONTREAL, Sept. 17, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Eligible patients in Manitoba and Saskatchewan with melanoma, the deadliest and most aggressive form of skin cancer, will now have publicly-funded access to Zelboraf (vemurafenib), a targeted medicine designed to prevent cancer growth in patients with a specific genetic mutation known as the BRAF mutation, which is present in approximately half of all cases of melanoma. We expect that The Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) will announce its recommendation on the reimbursement of certain cancer treatments, including Zelboraf, in the coming days.

"Manitoba and Saskatchewan's decision to provide public funding for Zelboraf is welcome news, that gives hope to patients with metastatic melanoma in Quebec, as they await the INESSS decision," said Patrick Murphy, spokesperson for the Melanoma Network of Canada, in Quebec. "These patients have been without adequate treatment options for decades, and we are hopeful that the Quebec government will follow suit to ensure that metastatic melanoma patients in this province have access to the same treatment options as patients in other parts of the country."

Approved by Health Canada in February 2012, Zelboraf is the first personalized medicine for metastatic melanoma. It targets cancer cells with a specific genetic mutation (BRAF) that can be detected through a simple genetic test, allowing dermatologists to prescribe the most effective and efficient treatment plan for each individual patient. Approximately half of all patients with melanoma carry the BRAF gene.

"With Vemurafenib, we can now recommend a personalized treatment to patients who will respond well and will have the chance to experience a significant change in their quality of life," said Dr. Joel Claveau, Dermatologist, Clinique du mélanome et des cancers cutanés, Hôtel-Dieu de Québec. "The medical community has waited years for a breakthrough like Vemurafenib.  All patients from Quebec suffering from metastatic melanoma should have access to this treatment."

"We invite Quebecers, especially those living with or touched by metastatic melanoma, to write letters to their deputy and to the provincial health minister to encourage public funding for cancer treatments that have demonstrated their therapeutic value such as Zelboraf", said Murphy.

For information on melanoma or to get involved, please visit us at www.melanomanetwork.ca. For eligibility criteria, please visit: http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/mdbif/bulletin69.pdf or http://www.saskcancer.ca/Formulary%2004-09-12.

About Melanoma
Melanoma is one of the fastest-growing cancers worldwide, and can affect anyone regardless of sex, age or race.1 It is one of the most frequently-diagnosed cancers in Canada, affecting 5,800 people in 2012 and causing 970 deaths.1

The incidence of melanoma has been increasing for the past 30 years,2 more rapidly among men than any other cancer, and more rapidly among women than any other cancer except lung cancer.3

About the Melanoma Network Canada (MNC)
Melanoma Network Canada (MNC) is a patient-led organization dedicated to the prevention and elimination of melanoma. Established in 2009 by a small group of patients and caregivers, the MNC works in collaboration with medical professionals, health care agencies and other stakeholders to educate, advocate and fund for early diagnosis and effective treatment of melanoma, education, prevention and awareness programs, relevant and innovative research, support for patients and an improved quality of life for those living with melanoma.

References
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1 Melanoma Network of Canada. Facts Summary. Available at: http://melanomanetwork.ca/page.php?page=14. Accessed August 8, 2012.
2 Public Health Agency of Canada. Melanoma Skin Cancer Facts and Figures. Available at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/cancer-eng.php. Accessed August 8, 2012.
3 Horn-Ross, P.L., Holly, E.A., Brown, S.R., et al. Temporal trends in the incidence of cutaneous malignant melanoma among Caucasians in the San Francisco-Oakland MSA. Canc Causes Contr.1991; 2(5):299-305.

SOURCE: Melanoma Network of Canada

For further information:

Media Contact:
Annette Cyr, Chair
Melanoma Network of Canada
289-242-2010
info@melanomanetwork.ca


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