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NICE publishes new guidance on melanoma

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published updated guidance on melanoma today, which aims to reduce the numbers of people dying from the disease, and addresses the wide variations across the country in diagnosis and treatment.

Rates of malignant melanoma in Britain have risen faster than any of the current 10 most common cancers, and melanoma now accounts for more cancer deaths than all other skin cancers combined.

The new NICE guideline focuses on assessing and managing melanoma, working out how far it has progressed (staging), identifying treatments for each stage of the disease, including when the cancer has spread, and outlines the best follow-up care.

Professor Mark Baker, Centre for Clinical Practice director at NICE, said:“At this time of year, we all want to get out there and enjoy the sun, and there are plenty of ways to do that safely: using a sunscreen with a high SPF, spending time in the shade between 11am - 3pm, ensuring you don't burn, and covering up with a hat, t-shirt and sunglasses. But, overexposure to ultraviolent light from the sun can have very serious repercussions.”

Improved, preferably nationally standardised, information should be made available to all patients with melanoma.

“The information given must be specific to the type of lesion, type of treatment, local services and any choice within them, and should cover both physical and psychosocial issues,” the guidance states.

NICE also makes recommendations for secondary care, that whole-body MRI scans should be used for stage ¾ children or young people, and on the use of sentinel lymph node biopsy and subsequent lymph node removal.

View the new guideline in full here