Australian of the Year Richard Scolyer now cancer-free thanks to his own groundbreaking research

Georgina Noack
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Professor Richard Scolyer has revealed he is still cancer-free almost a year on from his initial gioblastoma diagnosis.
Professor Richard Scolyer has revealed he is still cancer-free almost a year on from his initial gioblastoma diagnosis. Credit: Instagram

Being ‘patient zero’ in his groundbreaking cancer research has paid off for Australian of the Year Richard Scolyer, who has confirmed he is cancer-free a year on from his first diagnosis.

Professor Scolyer, 57, was diagnosed with glioblastoma IDH wild-type after having a seizure in Poland last June.

Facing “certain death” — most patients with his aggressive subtype of brain cancer survive less than a year — the University of Sydney academic appointed himself the “guinea pig” for a world-first immunotherapy treatment that was developed by his own research on melanoma.

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And now, almost a year on from that initial diagnosis, Professor Scolyer has revealed his latest scans showed no new cancer growth.

“I had (a) brain MRI scan last Thursday looking for recurrent glioblastoma (and/ or treatment complications),” he shared on social media on Tuesday.

“I found out yesterday that there is still no sign of recurrence. I couldn’t be happier!!!!!”

He thanked the “fabulous team looking after me”, namely his wife Katie and “wonderful family”.

Thousands of people flooded the comments section of Professor Scolyer’s post, expressing relief and gratitude for the continued success of his treatment, giving hope to thousands of people facing the same grim diagnosis.

This year the father-of-three and his research partner and friend, renowned oncologist Georgina Long, were named joint Australians of the Year for their pioneering research on treating melanomas.

The professors are co-directors of Melanoma Institute Australia and have revolutionised the treatment of the deadly skin cancer over a decade of research into immunotherapy.

Their research found that immunotherapy works better to attack melanoma when a combination of drugs is used, and when they are administered before surgery is performed to remove a cancerous tumour.

Melanoma researchers Richard Scolyer and Georgina Long were named joint Australians of the Year. Credit: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Professor Scolyer became the first brain cancer patient in the world to have combination pre-surgery immunotherapy, as well as the first to be administered a vaccine tailored to his tumour’s characteristics — which boosts the drugs’ cancer-detecting abilities.

Their groundbreaking melanoma research has drastically improved the outcomes for advanced melanoma patients worldwide.

And while the professors have said the odds of a cure are “minuscule”, they hope the experimental treatment will prolong Professor Scolyer’s life and will one day translate into clinical trials for glioblastoma patients like him.

A scientific paper about Professor Scolyer’s treatment, detailing the results of the first weeks of his treatment, is undergoing peer review.

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