What we do

As experts in melanoma, we serve the entire melanoma community, including medical professionals, patients, carers and the general public. We strive to shape a better future for melanoma patients.

The purpose of Melanoma Focus is to provide support and information for patients, carers and healthcare professionals while commissioning and funding innovative research. Under this banner, our activities are grouped in four main areas:

  • Patient Support
  • Professional Education
  • National Projects
  • Clinical Research

These are described below:

Patient receiving treatment from a nurse

Patient Support

Patient support informs every aspect of our work. From someone worried about a mole, to someone who is diagnosed with late-stage melanoma we pride ourselves in being a source of expert and caring information and guidance to accompany someone on their melanoma pathway. 

Our Melanoma Helpline, operated by a team of expert skin cancer nurse specialists, provides confidential general assistance, information and emotional support to patients, carers and the general public in the UK. In 2020 we expanded the Melanoma Helpline to meet the increased demand and we are constantly reviewing the service.

Our Melanoma Stages and Treatment – Patient Guide is the product of an expert steering group of clinicians, clinical nurse specialists and importantly patients, led by Dr Miranda Payne. It describes the stages of the melanoma together with information on key topics such as sentinel lymph node biopsy, adjuvant treatments, drug therapies and their side effects, as well as other available treatment options. Additionally, we provide general wellbeing information to support patients during and after their melanoma treatment.

Nurse and patient talking

Professional Education

Melanoma Focus organises two major annual melanoma conferences. Our Regional Meeting, which takes place in May, is hosted each year by one of the UK’s main melanoma centres, while our Focus Meeting Study Day in October in London is the UK principal melanoma event for healthcare professionals, attracting over 250 specialists including dermatologists, surgeons, oncologists, scientists and skin cancer nurses.

As part of the continuing professional development (CPD) programmes run by clinical organisations, these meetings are accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Surgeons; they are endorsed by the Association of Cancer Physicians, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons and the British Association of Skin Cancer Specialist Nurses.

National Projects

This heading covers the work we do in developing and publishing clinical guidelines including cutaneous and rarer forms of melanoma. These rare melanoma guidelines receive accreditation by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

In 2022 we are delighted to publish the updated National Clinical Guidelines for Uveal Melanoma (a type of ocular melanoma or melanoma of the eye).This update was kindly supported by OcuMel UK. This project was chaired by Dr Paul Nathan and is being submitted for publication in a peer review journal.  

Further guidelines for another rare subset of the disease called mucosal melanoma, using NICE-accredited methods to create a
National Clinical Guidelines for Mucosal Melanoma were published. The guidelines were split into two phases; in 2017 the ano-uro-genital mucosal melanoma guidelines were produced and later published, under the chairmanship of the late Professor Martin Gore CBE. The second phase of this project, addressing sino-nasal and head & neck mucosal melanoma, was chaired by Professor Kevin Harrington reported in 2020 and has been accepted for publication.

Melanoma Focus also produces consensus documents and guidelines in important areas of interest such a melanoma and pregnancy, sentinel lymph node biopsy and melanoma follow-up guidelines.  

The charity is also involved in public consultation concerning various aspects of melanoma medicine including the championing of patientsinterests. We routinely provide expert witnesses for NICE technology appraisals of melanoma treatments.

Clinical Research

We commission and fund melanoma studies of various types, regularly calling for proposals from melanoma researchers. Our Scientific Committee, led by Dr Samra Turajlic, evaluates the responses and makes recommendations for the grant of awards.

For more information on the studies we currently support and have supported, please see here.

Additionally, we have developed the UK Melanoma TrialFinder, a searchable database by various terms such as stage, type of melanoma and postcode. Two versions have been created; one for professionals and one for patients with the formation of lay versions to briefly explain each trial.  

Each research study furthers the national and international understanding of melanoma.

How we are Supported

We are entirely voluntarily funded and rely to a great extent on the encouragement and participation of our growing band of supporters.  Medical professionals, patients, carers and often members of the general public enthusiastically undertake personal challenges, bake cakes, climb, walk, sky dive and generally do amazing things to support us. We thank you …

Funding also is also applied for from Trust and Grant making organisations, pharmaceutical companies and a growing band of interested corporate entities.  

If you would like to support our work, you will find details of how you can help us reach our aims of shaping a better future for melanoma patients here.