melanoma monday, national skin self-examination day, malignant melanoma, changing mole, changing birth mark

Two Or More People Under Age 35 Diagnosed With Malignant Melanoma Every Day

BBC News (4/6, Roberts) reports, “More than two people under 35 in Britain are diagnosed each day with malignant melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer,” according to Cancer Research UK. Their data shows there has been a “tripling in melanoma rates among 15- and 34-year-olds since the late 1970s and the rise is continuing.”

The UK’s Press Association (4/6) noted that in 1970, there were “1.8 cases of melanoma per 100,000 people in this age group, rising to 5.9 now.” It is believed that “sunbeds are playing a role in boosting cancer rates among young people, together with not taking care on summer holidays.” Launching its annual SunSmart campaign, which “promotes the use of suntan lotion and covering up in midday sun, the charity said more than 900 young Britons are newly diagnosed with the disease each year.” It also warned that “older people are at risk, with skin cancer rates rising among all age groups.” In 2007, there were “10,800 new cases among all ages, jumping to 11,700 cases in 2008 – an 8.5% rise.”

May 2, 2011 – Melanoma Monday

May 2, 2011

“Melanoma Monday” is the first Monday of May – and the kick-off of May Melanoma Skin Cancer Month with special activities nationally and locally.  Also known as National Skin Self-Examination Day. People are encouraged to examine their skin for skin cancer.

On this day, please also consider and share these facts about Indoor Tanning:

  1. Indoor tanning is considered a carcinogen by The World Health Organization,  International Agency for Research on Cancer, The American Medical Association, American Academy of Dermatology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics
  2. The risk of melanoma is increased by 75% when exposure to tanning beds occurs before the age of 30 (Lancet 2009)
  3. In the  Skin Health Population Study, researchers found that those using tanning beds often were 2.5-3x more likely to develop melanoma thana person who never tanned indoors
  4. The Australian Melanoma Family Study identified 76% of the melanoma in patients between the ages of 18-39 to be attributed to tanning bed use

If you need to find a local dermatologist, you can look  here.

Drug to Fight Melanoma Prolonged Life in Trial

Advanced melanoma patients taking an experimental drug aimed at a particular mutation in their tumors lived longer than patients who did not receive the drug in a decisive clinical trial, the drug’s manufacturer, Roche, said Wednesday.

About half of the 68,000 Americans who develop melanoma every year have a mutation in a gene, called B-RAF, that goes awry, for reasons not well understood, signaling cells to grow uncontrollably. The Roche drug works by blocking a malfunctioning protein the gene produces in cancer cells, but leaving the functioning proteins in noncancerous cells alone.

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Laser To Diagnose Melanoma

Researchers say they’ve developed a new and potentially more accurate way to diagnose melanoma lesions, using laser technology.  In early trial, technique was 100% accurate in correctly identifying cancerous lesions.

The laser equipment spots key differences in pigmentation between healthy skin and cancerous tissue, the team explained.   The technique still requires a biopsy, but would potentially be able to eliminate any ambiguity in pathological diagnosis that might otherwise exit.

The sample size tested is small, so more research is needed to see if this pans out – but if it does, it may be a major diagnostic tool used in the not so distant future.

SOURCES: Duke University, news release, Feb. 23, 2011; Vijay Trisal, M.D., assistant professor, surgical oncology, City of Hope Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.

Mothers Often Encourage Daughters To Tan

Who says teenagers don’t listen to their parents?

Public health researchers recently published an intriguing report about the indoor tanning habits of college students, based on a survey of more than 200 female students at East Tennessee State University. The report was printed as a letter in The Archives of Dermatology.

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Sunscreen May Not Prevent Melanoma

A new study shedding light on sunscreen is notable in Oklahoma, where skin cancer kills more people per 100,000 than in any other state.

“We are No. 1 in the nation,” said Anne Pate, state Health Department epidemiologist. The latest figures show 150 Oklahomans died of melanoma in 2007.

Conventional wisdom holds that sunscreen is one of the biggest barriers against skin cancer. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society and the state Health Department also mention sunscreen use as one way of keeping safe from the sun’s dangerous rays.

False security?

Sunscreen protects against sunburn, but the way it is used gives people a false sense of security, suggests a study conducted by Marianne Berwick, a University of New Mexico professor of epidemiology.

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Asking the Right Questions to Fight Melanoma

As time and financial pressures on physicians continues to increase, the length of doctor’s appointments seem to get shorter and shorter.  So, it’s important to go into every appointment prepared with questions that will help you get the most out of your visit.

Following are questions patients should consider asking their primary care physician or dermatologist to help them stay vigilant against melanoma:

  • How often should I get checked? You should understand your risk profile and act on it.
  • What should I look for during a self skin check? Go beyond the ABCDE’s; get a “tutorial” on your own moles from your physician.
  • What can I do to reduce my risk? We all know that ultraviolet exposure increases risk and it’s important to make sure you’re aware of commonly overlooked sources of UV exposure.
  • Who will analyze my skin biopsy? Dermatopathologists are experts in diagnosing skin diseases, so know whether your biopsy is being evaluated by a specialist or a generalist.
  • Who are the healthcare professionals who will treat me if I’m faced with a melanoma diagnosis? If you are faced with a diagnosis, it’s important to know your options and understand which professionals bring the experience you need.

Please click here for more information and discussion on these important quesitons.

Celecoxib (Celebrex) may decrease risk of Squamous and Basal Cell Carcinoma

A controversial arthritis drug may prevent skin cancer developing in susceptible individuals, research suggests.

Celecoxib reduced the likelihood of pre-cancerous abnormal cells generating non-melanoma skin tumours.

The drug, marketed in the UK under the name Celebrex, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It targets the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 2 (Cox-2) which is believed to be involved in the development of non-melanoma skin cancers triggered by too much sun exposure.

Four years ago the drug was at the centre of controversy after research suggested it might increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Celecoxib belongs to the same drug family as Vioxx, which was withdrawn from the market following similar concerns.

US scientists conducting the new study looked at the effect of celecoxib on 240 people who already had actinic keratosis – pre-cancerous skin damage.

The drug did not alter the number of lesions appearing after two months of treatment, but by the end of the trial participants taking celecoxib had significantly fewer non-melanoma skin cancers than those given a “dummy” placebo pill.

Dr Craig Elmets, from the University of Alabama, and colleagues wrote in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute which published the research online: “The findings of this study, which showed that the celecoxib-treated individuals developed fewer non-melanoma skin cancers than placebo-treated individuals, suggest that cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors may provide an additional benefit to sunscreens in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancers.”

Non-melanoma skin cancers include cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) and basal cell carcinomas (BCCs). They are much less dangerous than melanoma cancers and can often be cured.

Previous research has shown that celecoxib can hold back the development of bowel cancer.


Mohs Paste for Treating Melanoma

“I believe chemosurgery with zinc chloride paste, followed by wide excision, is a better way to remove a melanoma than fresh tissue surgery.”

There was a very interesting review published recently about the use of Zinc Chloride paste and treating melanoma. This is a technique that is not widely known – but amongst the people who do know it – widely admired.  The idea here is that applying Zinc Chloride paste to a melanoma BEFORE it is excised may stimulate an immune response to help the body fight the melanoma.  Almost in a similar way that a melanoma vaccine would work.

Pros: May improve survival, Does not interfere with the standard of care (ie: this is a complement to the standard – not a substitution for the standard), Inexpensive, Anyone with a deep melanoma would be a candidate, May help treat distant metastatic lesions

Cons: Not FDA approved, May be difficult to find a dermatologist who has/knows of the technique, Some patients can develop flue like symptoms while the immune response occurs (which may be related to a better response to treatment)

It is our hope that researchers will pick up this pearl and conduct a formalized study, as formal research on this technique is sorely lacking – likely because there is no pharmaceutical incentive to sponsor the research

The full article can be found here.

Sunscreen Found to Reduce Melanoma

Regular use of sunscreen during a clinical trial of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas was found to reduce the incidence of a different skin malignancy – new primary melanomas – up to 10 years later, according to a study published online Dec. 6 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The number of invasive melanomas in particular decreased by 73%, but this was an exploratory finding “and should be interpreted cautiously,” said Dr. Adéle C. Green and her associates at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Royal Brisbane (Australia) Hospital.

For the complete article, click here.