Can prior vaccinations against certain infections confer protection against developing melanoma?

John M Grange, Bernd Krone, Klaus F Kölmel and Giuseppe Mastrangelo
Med J Aust 2009; 191 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02907.x
Published online: 2 November 2009

Currently available, relatively safe vaccines may help tackle this serious and increasing public health problem

Melanoma is a serious public health problem in many countries throughout the world, with an incidence increasing at a faster rate than that of any other cancer except lung cancer among women.1 In Europe and the United States, the incidence increased threefold between 1970 and 2000, although improved awareness meant that the mortality rate did not rise so steeply. The risk of melanoma varies greatly (around 100-fold) from region to region, with the highest risk being in Australia where, in 2003, the annual risk was 46.9 per 100 000 population, with estimated lifetime risks of one in 28 and one in 19 up to the ages of 75 and 85 years, respectively.2 With the exclusion of non-melanotic skin cancers, melanoma was the fourth most prevalent cancer in Australia, accounting for 10% of all cases, and the age-standardised risk of melanoma increased by 14% between 1993 and 2003.

  • 1 Centre for Infectious Diseases and International Health, University College London, London, UK.
  • 2 University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.
  • 3 University of Padua, Padua, Italy.


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