Canadians with advanced skin cancer share their disease journey with launch of an empowering photo series: Melanoma Through My Lens

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 Cancer News
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  • Campaign aims to raise awareness about different forms of the life-threatening skin cancer and its impact on patients and their families

TORONTO, Aug. 17, 2016 /CNW/ - Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., is pleased to announce the launch of Melanoma Through My Lens, a unique awareness campaign in collaboration with Save Your Skin Foundation. The
campaign centres around a compelling photo series, the Melanoma Through My Lens Reflection Project, which is entirely created by six Canadians from across the country, living with advanced melanoma, who creatively showcase their own personal journey with the disease – from diagnosis to today, through a unique photo e-book that is available online at

The Save Your Skin Foundation, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to education and awareness of skin cancer and skin disease, by supporting research and ensuring equal and timely access to treatment for all Canadians.

The campaign aims to raise awareness about different forms of the life-threatening skin cancer, and start a conversation about advanced melanoma and the patient journey. It also hopes to raise awareness about the related genes involved and its impact on patients and their families. A change in a gene is called a gene mutation, which can disrupt normal development or cause a medical condition.i The disease can vary from person to person because of gene mutations that may be present in melanoma cells, and that are unique to each person.ii  In fact, melanoma is one of the cancers with the highest frequency of genetic mutations.iii While the BRAF mutation is the most common mutation in advanced melanoma, other known mutations include NRAS and c-KIT.iv

"Every advanced melanoma patient lives their own journey in a very personal and profound way. The moment you get that diagnosis, it is life-altering for you and everyone in your circle," said Kathy Barnard, Founder and President of the Save Your Skin Foundation and herself a 10-year survivor of the disease. "Patients and their families go through so much; it's literally like a roller coaster ride. When I was first diagnosed I felt alone. This is why I created the Foundation in the first place. Through this campaign we want to raise awareness of the advanced melanoma journey and let other advanced melanoma patients know they are not alone."

"We are committed to improving and extending the lives of cancer patients in Canada. It brings our organization great pride to collaborate with organizations such as Save Your Skin Foundation, who have been a pillar of support to melanoma patients in Canada," said Winselow Tucker, General Manager, Novartis Oncology. "This project gives melanoma patients a voice and allows them to express how they feel in a unique way. We hope that it will help inspire other Canadians living with melanoma to find the courage to continue their fight."

Know Yourself, Know Your OptionsMelanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, accounting for an estimated eight per cent of cases of skin cancer in Canada but approximately 70 per cent of deaths from the disease in 2014.v

If left untreated, melanoma can spread or metastasize to other parts of the body, such as the brain, bones, liver, and lungs and is known as metastatic When it cannot be fully removed by surgery, it is called unresectable melanoma. Both metastatic and unresectable melanoma are forms of advanced melanoma.vii Until recently, advanced melanoma was a disease with limited treatment options and a poor prognosis.viii

Melanoma accounts for about three per cent of all new cancer cases, placing it among the top 10 cancers diagnosed in Canada.ix An estimated 6,800 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma last year.x It is also estimated that in 2015, 1,150 Canadians died from their melanoma.xi

For more information about melanoma and the different gene mutations that can play a role in the disease, visit and

The Save Your Skin Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to the areas of skin cancer and skin disease with a focus on education and awareness, supporting research and ensuring equal and timely access to treatment for all Canadians. Please visit for more information.

About Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., a leader in the healthcare field, is committed to the discovery, development and marketing of innovative products to improve the well-being of all Canadians. In 2015, the company invested $53 million in research and development in Canada. Located in Dorval, Quebec, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. employs more than 700 people in Canada and is an affiliate of Novartis AG, which provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. For further information, please consult Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio: innovative medicines, eye care and cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2015, the Group achieved net sales of USD 49.4 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 8.9 billion (USD 8.7 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 118,000 full-time-equivalent associates. Novartis products are available in more than 180 countries around the world. For more information, please visit

References_____________________________________I Canadian Cancer Society. Genes and cancer. Available at: ii American Cancer Society, Melanoma Skin Cancer 2015, pg. 10, A.iii Watson IR et a, Emerging patterns of somatic mutations in cancer, Nat Rev Genet. 2013 October; 14(10): 703–718, Author manuscript pg. 6, A.iv National Cancer Institute, Melanoma Treatment for Health Professionals, 2015, pg. 1-2.v Canadian Cancer Society's Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014, Chapter 7, Special Topic: Skin Cancers, pp. 77, Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society; ACS Melanoma Skin Cancer 2015, pg. 26 B and 1, A. viI ACS Melanoma Skin Cancer 2015, pg. 42, A; NCCN Guidelines for Patients_Melanoma_V1_2014_pg1-108, pg. 76, A.viii Kushnir I_The evolution in melanoma treatment as a reflection of precision-oriented medicine_ Pg1-5_2013, pg. 2, A.ix Canadian Cancer Society's Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014, Chapter 7, Special Topic: Skin Cancers, p. 78, Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society; 2014. x Canadian Cancer Society's Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015, p. 25 and 47, Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society; 2015.xi Ibid.


SOURCE Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.

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