Melanoma study wins the 2024 ACTA Health Economics Award


Two senior researchers from the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney have won the ACTA HEAT Excellence in Trial-Based Health Economics Award.

The ceremony attended by the Health Minster Hon Mark Butler, NHMRC CEO Steve Wesselingh, and NSW Health Director Jean-Frederic Levesque, awarded economists who publish high quality analyses that make a significant contribution to trials methodology, health and social policy, or health impact.

The study, Melanoma Genomics Managing Your Risk, led by health economists from the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre and Prof Anne Cust, found that a program providing individuals with a report on their genetic risk of melanoma was a cost-effective method to improve sun protection behaviours. This innovative approach is projected to significantly reduce sunburns and melanomas among Australians at high risk of skin cancer.

Associate Professor Stephen Law said, “One-off genomic screening and provision of a personalised risk report was cost-effective for those people with a high traditional risk of melanoma, at around $35,000 to save one year of life in full health, which is considered to be excellent value for money by the Australian Government.”

Professor Rachael Morton says, “It is unlikely that providing personalised genomic risk information for people at low risk of melanoma is cost-effective. We therefore recommend a targeted screening approach whereby one-off genomic testing and a personalised risk profile report is given to Australians who are at high traditional risk of melanoma, rather than given to everyone in the population.”

This study has informed the new Australian Cancer Plan, which includes the development of a National Framework for Genomics in Cancer Control, including the use of genomics for prevention.  A targeted skin cancer screening program is now a focus of the Australian Cancer Plan, within which genomics/polygenic scores might be incorporated as part of the risk assessment processes and is endorsed by the College of Dermatologists and consumers.


The authors would like to acknowledge the trialists, clinicians and consumers involved in the Managing Your Risk Study, on which the economic evaluation was based.