Melanoma Network of Canada Applauds Governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan for Funding First Personalized Treatment for Metastatic Melanoma

~ Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments are first to help address 30-year gap-in-care by making Zelboraf available through public funding ~

OAKVILLE, ON, Sept. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - 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. BRAF mutations are present in approximately half of all cases of melanoma.

"We commend the Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments for providing public funding for Zelboraf and giving new hope to patients who have been without adequate treatment options for decades," said Annette Cyr, chair of the Melanoma Network of Canada. "We strongly urge other provinces to follow Manitoba and Saskatchewan's lead and ensure that all Canadians living with metastatic melanoma have access to the same high quality of care, regardless of where they live."

Zelboraf, a monotherapy treatment for BRAF mutation-positive unresectable or metastatic melanoma, 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 oncologists to implement the most effective and efficient treatment plan for each individual patient. Zelboraf was approved by Health Canada in February, 2012.

"The decision to add Zelboraf to the provincial formulary in Manitoba and Saskatchewan is welcomed by the medical community in these two provinces.  We hope that other provincial governments will also fund this much-needed medication," said Dr. Ralph Wong, Medical Oncologist, Cancercare Manitoba and Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Manitoba. "Personalized medicines like Zelboraf take an innovative approach to health care, allowing oncologists to prescribe the right treatment to the right patient at the right time, therefore optimizing the use of health care resources."

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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.i

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.


1 Melanoma Network of Canada. Facts Summary. Available at: Accessed August 8, 2012.
2 Public Health Agency of Canada. Melanoma Skin Cancer Facts and Figures. Available at: 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:

Annette Cyr, Chair
Melanoma Network of Canada


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