News in brief: CLL patients have poor melanoma outcomes; Upskilling program for GPs improving skin cancer detection; COVID curbs pharma sponsorship of doctor meetings

23 Mar 2022

CLL patients have poor melanoma outcomes

People with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) who develop melanoma have significantly poorer outcomes compared to people without a history of blood cancer, a first study of its kind shows.

The retrospective case-controlled trial from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre involving 56 patients with CLL and melanoma found CLL was associated with significantly worse melanoma-specific mortality (hazard ratio 2.46; p = 0.007) and recurrence (hazard ratio 3.44; p < 0.001) compared to patients with melanoma alone.

Furthermore, adverse events requiring cessation of immunotherapy occurred in 43% of patients with CLL compared to 7% of patients without CLL.

“With new and effective treatments, patients with CLL are living longer and the impact of second malignancies on their survival is becoming increasingly important. We found that the patients with CLL who developed melanoma had poorer MSS, RFS and potentially poorer immunotherapy intolerance,” the authors led by Professor Michael Henderson said.

“Patients with CLL with newly diagnosed melanoma should be counselled about this recurrence risk and possible immunotherapy complications. Future studies should investigate the most appropriate management in this vulnerable population,” they concluded.

The authors noted that the study was limited by its small, low event number and long observational period.

Read more in the British Journal of Haematology.


Upskilling program for GPs improving skin cancer detection

SunSmart’s Dermoscopy for Victorian General Practice Program has improved GP confidence in diagnosing skin cancers and had an impact on their practice.

An evaluation of the 2019 program, completed by 79 GPs mostly from non-metropolitan areas, said the majority of participants found access to the ACD Practical Dermoscopy course was either very or fairly useful.

Course components – written resources (91.1%), face-to-face training (97.5%), online training (96.2%), and receiving the dermatoscope (98.7%) – all rated highly.

The evaluation found the supplied dermatoscopes were used frequently by GPs, with 31.6% using it many times a day, 39.2% using it daily, and 27.8% using it weekly.

GPs used the dermatoscope to differentiate skin cancer types for treatment (89.9%) and triage lesions for referral (64.6%). More lesions were excised and more keratinocyte cancers were confirmed after the training than before the program.

Read more in Public Health Research & Practice


COVID curbs pharma sponsorship of doctor meetings

Pharmaceutical industry spending on hospitality for doctors attending medical education events fell by 40% during the pandemic, according to new figures released by industry lobby group Medicines Australia.

In its transparency report for the period 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021 the total expenditure reported by companies on hospitality was $364,332, down from $594,474.

There were 721 medical education events sponsored during the six month period at a total costs of $5.96 million covered by the report, compared to spending of $5.63 million on 804 events in the same period a year previously.

The total hours of education supported by industry sponsorship declined from 6253 hours to 4934 hours.

The number of healthcare professional attendances at industry sponsored events fell from 165,455 to 148,810.

The pandemic forced most medical meetings to be transformed into virtual meetings and a recent pharmaceutical industry survey showed that most companies expected a significant level of virtual engagement with healthcare professionals to be maintained in future.

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