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Posts Tagged ‘melanoma’

Genetic Mutation May Be Cause of Melanoma

Posted by Cosmetic Surgery Review on June 11, 2010

A new study carried out by the Institute of Cancer Research and published in the Cancer Research journal shows that a genetic mutation found in some forms of malignant melanoma can initiate the development of the deadliest form of skin cancer. The KRAS gene is mutated in approximately two per cent of malignant melanomas, and is the study is the first of its kind to show that damage to this gene can be the first in a process of events that trigger malignant melanoma.

Professor Richard Marais, lead author of the study reports, “We know that the main cause of skin cancer is damage driven by the UV rays in sunlight, and we are now building up a picture of the key genes involved in this disease. We have already discovered that mutations in another gene, BRAF, could drive up to half of melanomas, and now we’ve established that damage to the KRAS gene can also be the first step in malignant melanoma development.”

Melanoma is difficult to treat once it has spread to other organs. The results from the study are helping researchers learn how different types of genetic events can cause skin cancer to develop, and also understand what triggers the disease so that scientists can find better treatments. In another related study, researchers found that genetic mutations ma y be necessary to promote cancer growth. Researchers are trying to identify these other changes so that they can develop more effective therapeutic approaches for treating early signs of skin cancer and preventing the formation of melanoma.

Researchers of this study and dermatologists advise patients to avoid excessive use of tanning beds and too much sun exposure, which can both be responsible for triggering skin cancer and melanoma growth. Melanoma was the cause of 8,650 deaths in the United States in 2009 alone, and approximately 68,720 new cases were reported that same year.


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Researchers Report All Types of Indoor Tanning Devices Increase Melanoma Risk

Posted by Cosmetic Surgery Review on June 8, 2010

Tanning beds offer the convenience of year-round tanning over your lunch hour, but do pose several health risks. Researchers and dermatologists in the United States report that indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, regardless of the person’s age, gender, and even the type of tanning device that is used. This means that a person’s risk of getting skin cancer is the same when they use high-powered tanning beds, stand-up booths and other tanning systems.

The study was published in the May issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, one of the journals of the American Association for Cancer Research. Associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and co-leader of the Prevention and Etiology Research Program at the University’s Masonic Cancer Center, and principal investigator of the study, Dr. DeAnn Lazovich, states that “there was no safe tanning device” in the study. She found that the risk of getting melanoma was linked with how much time a person spent getting a tan, regardless of the device. Before this study, indoor tanning had been “weakly linked” with the risk of getting melanoma.

Dr. Lazovich and colleagues searched through statewide cancer registries to determine the number of melanoma patients aged from 25 to 59 diagnosed in Minnesota only, between 2004 and 2007. The researchers invited the patients to complete a questionnaire and telephone interview to determine what types of devices they used, how frequently they were exposed to the tanning device, and if they experienced any tanning-related burns.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and accounts for approximately 4 percent of skin cancer cases. It is one of the fastest increasing cancers in the United States, and approximately 69,000 American s are diagnosed with melanoma each year.

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Mayo Clinic Reports Melanoma is Curable When Caught Early

Posted by Cosmetic Surgery Review on May 22, 2010

It’s the deadliest form of skin cancer, but unfortunately, is becoming increasingly common worldwide.

One in 50 Americans will have to deal with melanoma at some point in their lives, according to the Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource, the organization strives to provide information on treatment options, and the latest news about skin cancer so that individuals can reduce their risk.

Today, the only major treatment for malignant melanoma is to remove the entire tumor, along with some of the skin. Removing the tumor in the early stages can help reduce the rate of recurrence of the disease, and further damage. Almost 80 percent of skin cancer cases can be cured completely when they are discovered at an early stage. Once the cancer has spread, more aggressive treatment is required. Today’s treatment options include radiation therapy, lymph node removal, chemotherapy and immune-based therapy.

By definition, melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes, and is the main cause of skin-cancer related deaths. It is caused by an uncontrolled growth of pigmented cells, or melanin. It is predominantly found in adults, and 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths are from malignant melanoma. People of all skin types are at risk for developing melanoma at some point in their lives, and it is typically found only in parts of the body that are covered by skin.

Dermatologists and doctors advise individuals to avoid the use of tanning beds, especially before the age of 35, and to avoid direct sun exposure if they have a history of sunburns. The Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource also points out that individuals should see a dermatologist immediately if moles begin to itch, bleed, or are changing in color. Variations in color from tan, brown, black, and even red or white may be indicative of skin cancer.

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Maryland Legislation Prohibits Indoor Tanning for Minors

Posted by Cosmetic Surgery Review on March 23, 2010

The state of Maryland has initiated new legislation to protect minors from melanoma that prohibits teens from using any type of tanning facilities, and prohibits tanning bed companies to market directly to this market segment.

The legislation is based on scientific evidence that indoor tanning before the age of 30 is undeniably linked to an increased risk of developing skin cancer, and health organizations including the American Academy of Dermatology Association, the American Cancer Society, the Center for a Healthy Maryland, and dermatology professionals are in firm support of this new direction.

Senator James Robey and Delegate William A. Bronrott represent a broad-based coalition of 20 legislators in the Senate and House, and Senator Robey is the originating sponsor of Senate Bill 718. He stated, “My district of Howard County, MD, has already led the nation in teen and adolescent safeguards from the well documented cancer risks and irreversible skin damage caused by the UV-radiation of indoor tanning. The legislation will firmly place Maryland in lockstep with a broad coalition of health professionals, organizations, national agencies and the international community to protecting our youth.”

Melanoma is one of the most common cancers diagnosed among young adults, and according to Delegate Bill Bronrott, approximately 40 percent of teenage girls are using tanning beds each year.

Until the recent legislation, minors were permitted to use a tanning device at a tanning facility with a parent or legal guardian’s consent. Now, regulation prevents minors from using tanning beds altogether in an effort to reduce the risk of overexposure to UV rays that often lead to skin cancer.

Roberta Herbst, Program Manager for the Center for a Healthy Maryland, points out that “the thinner skin of children and teens is particularly vulnerable to damage from UV radiation. Recent studies show an alarming rise in the incidence of melanoma among young women in the U.S. since 1980, which may be attributable to the prevalence of tanning bed use by teens.” (Source: Medical News Today)

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Celebrex May Inhibit Skin Cancer in High-Risk Patients

Posted by Cosmetic Surgery Review on January 19, 2010

Men and women who are susceptible to developing skin cancer may be able to take preventive measures with the prescription drug Celebrex. According to a recent study that monitored the effects of Celebrex on people with a skin disorder called Gorlin syndrome, a condition that predisposes the individual to developing basal cell carcinoma, Celebrex may be effective in inhibiting the development of skin cancer in some patients.

The results of the placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind, Phase II study were published in the January issue of Cancer Prevention Research, a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research. Celebrex is the brand name for the drug celecoxib and is produced by Pfizer, Incorporated, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. It is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

The goal of the study was to reduce the number of basal cell carcinomas in individuals with Gorlin syndrome. According to Ervin Epstein, Jr., M.D., and senior scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, California, “The underlying idea is if we can find something in these high-risk patients that could be translatable to the “normal” population, then we could ultimately use that form of chemoprevention to reduce the number of skin cancer in all people.” (Source:

Results of another study were also recently published in the January issue of Cancer Prevention Research. In this study, clinical researchers evaluated the effects of cyclooxygenase inhibition as a form of cancer treatment. Researchers report that the results of both studies indicate that there may soon be more options for treating patients with basal cell carcinoma, and combination therapies may soon be on the horizon for those who have been diagnosed with melanoma and other types of skin cancers.

While there are several benefits to taking Celebrex, the drug still has side effects including the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

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Antioxidant Supplements Not Linked to Increased Risk of Melanoma

Posted by Cosmetic Surgery Review on September 8, 2009

j0321064A recent report in the August issue of the Archives of Dermatology indicates that antioxidant supplements do not appear to be associated with an increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest of all skin cancers. Several randomized trials have been conducted to determine if daily supplementation with vitamin C and E, selenium, zinc and beta carotene are linked to an increased risk of melanoma, and some tests showed that certain supplements could increase the risk of skin cancer in women.

69,671 women and men have participated in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study overseen by Maryam M. Asgari, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, and the study lasted for two years. This program asked participants to complete a 24-[age questionnaire about their lifestyle including their diet, any supplements they have been taking, their health history, and any other factors that may contribute to increased cancer risk.

Researchers found that there is in fact no link between increased melanoma risk and supplementation of beta carotene, selenium, vitamin E and other antioxidant supplements that had been previously reported as playing a role in the development of skin cancer. Another study shows that there is no association between taking vitamins A and C. reports that taking antioxidant supplements before prolonged sun exposure may in fact reduce oxidative damage, and may reduce the effects of sun damage on moles that might otherwise be receptive to cancerous changes. (Source:

An estimated 48 to 55 percent of adults in the United States take vitamin and mineral supplements regularly, so any reports of potential negative effects or an increased risk of certain cancers raises several questions.

For now at least, there is documented proof that antioxidant supplements are not linked to an increased risk of skin cancers such as melanoma. Still, more studies by dermatologists and researchers are underway.

Source: Archives of Dermatology

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Melanoscan Digital Imaging Device Aids with Early Skin Detection

Posted by Cosmetic Surgery Review on August 18, 2009

42-16033616Until now, it has been up to the dermatologist’s in-depth examination of the body to detect early signs of skin cancer. However, a powerful new imaging device may soon help thousands of dermatologists identify skin cancer in its early stages so that they can effectively treat melanoma in its very early stages.

According to a recent press release, Melanoscan is the first full-body digital imaging device that can assist dermatologists with the early identification of deadly melanomas.

This digital scanning system uses an innovative time-lapse imaging technology to detect melanoma up to two years before its appearance. The study accurately assessed the risk of melanoma in over 6,000 subjects, and was able to predict who would develop melanoma in as little as five minutes. The Melanoscan device detected 27 cases of melanoma, bringing the cure rate of this deadly skin cancer to 99.3%.

Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer in the United States, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, one person in the U.S. dies from melanoma every 68 minutes. Still, this type of cancer is treatable with early detection. Men and women of all ages are encouraged to visit a dermatologist at least once every season to make sure their skin is in good health.

The Melanoscan procedure can be performed under 10 minutes, and there is no preparation required. The device uses an automated image capture system so the patient can have their pictures taken in a private room.

According to Dr. Rhett Drudge, inventor of the Melanoscan and lead researcher of the study, “the logistics of saving 7,500 lives every year in the United States through early melanoma detection are clearly daunting. However, the Melanoscan technology can be mobilized and delivered to facilitate early detection, even to the most rural communities. The greatest appeal of this technology lies in its potential to deliver a standardized melanoma screening procedure throughout the United States and beyond.”


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International Study Links Genetics to Melanoma

Posted by Cosmetic Surgery Review on July 14, 2009

42-16710466Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can be the result of overexposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning booths. Until recently, dermatologists and medical professionals strongly linked the risk of melanoma to excessive sun exposure and sun sensitivity, and a genetic disposition to developing skin cancer.

Now, recent research confirms that genetics does play an important role in the development of melanoma, and may explain why people with the most moles on their skin have the highest risk of developing melanoma.

According to a study led by Professors Julia Newton Bishop and Tim Bishop of the Melanoma Genetics Consortium (GenoMEL) at the University of Leeds in the UK, people with genes that gave them red hair and freckles, and those who develop moles very easily, are at an increased risk of melanoma. The study examined the genetic makeup of over 10,000 people and compared the results with those who have developed the disease, and those who have not. They found several genetic commonalities between the participants of the study, and those who had developed melanoma.  Those who tend to have burn easily, have sensitive skin, and tend to get freckles are increasingly at risk for developing skin cancer.

While the results of the study confirmed what many researchers already knew, the link between certain genes and the risk of melanoma had not been researched in-depth or reported on until this time. Results of the study were published in the online issue of Nature Genetics, and point to the actual genes associated with the increased risk of melanoma and skin cancer.

Staying out of direct sunlight is only one way to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, as it is just as important for people to wear appropriate sun protection when they are outdoors or will be exposed to indirect sunlight. Melanoma is fatal, and those who are at a higher risk of developing this disease must take extra measures to protect themselves against excess sun exposure.


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Scientists Develop Skin Cancer Blocking Drug

Posted by Cosmetic Surgery Review on May 4, 2009

CB107876According to a study recently published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, skin cancer may soon be treated with a potent drug.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in the United Kingdom have revealed the effects of a new class of drugs that can treat malignant melanomas. The study was funded by Cancer Research UK, and the Wellcome Trust, and may be the next step in finding an effective way to stop and kill cancer cells.

Malignant melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and so far, cannot be treated with any type of drug. Skin cancer patients typically have to undergo extensive surgery and treatments to reduce and eliminate the cancer cells, but no one has found an effective cure.

The drug was developed after researchers traced human melanoma to the BRAF protein, a protein that stimulates the growth of melanoma cells. The drug they developed actively blocks the activity of this protein, and may be able to selectively kill the melanoma cells completely. The drug is made with chemicals called pyridoimidazalones, and a set of treatments may be effective at stopping the spread of cancer cells, and killing off cancer completely. Researchers say the recent tests have shown remarkable results on their patients and the drugs have very few – if any – side effects.

You can reduce your risk of developing malignant melanoma and various levels of skin cancer by wearing sunscreen even when the sun is not out, and avoiding excessive sun exposure. Any changes to the appearance of moles, scars and other skin pigmentation need to be screened by a professional dermatologist; early detection of skin cancer is one of the best preventative cures, and may help reduce the chances of developing a deadly cancer.

Still, there is hope for those who are going through the stages of full-blown skin cancer with drugs that will target the mutated genes.

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Vaccine Therapy May Reduce Effects of Skin Cancer

Posted by Cosmetic Surgery Review on January 31, 2009

skin-cancerThe Mayo Clinic reports that current melanoma treatment options include radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy and experimental therapies.  However, there may soon be another option for those diagnosed with severe cases of skin cancer.

Doctors have been working on a vaccine that could treat advanced stages of melanoma and reduce the risk of fatal forms of skin cancer.  Sanofi-Aventis is conducting the study for this vaccine at 25 testing centers in the United States and Canada; the vaccine is designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to protect the skin cells and reduce further development of existing cancer.

In late 2008, Professor Ian Frazer of the University of Queensland delivered several findings of a vaccine he had developed to the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress. In the trials and studies, the vaccine effectively switched off the ‘killer T cells’ and the treatment was deemed a promising venture for the future. Researchers expected that this particular vaccine may be available within a 5-year time period. (Source: UK Telegraph)

Skin cancer continues to be one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States, and dermatologists encourage people of all skin types to take a proactive approach to reduce their risk.  While wearing sunscreen and steering clear of high-sun times can help, thousands of people are still diagnosed with potentially-dangerous melanoma each year. Some people are genetically susceptible to melanoma, but many cases of skin cancer go undetected until the melanoma has reached its advanced stages.

People with early stages of melanoma can undergo surgery to have the skin removed, but treatment decisions are only made after a thorough consultation.

If the vaccine is approved for use in the United States, doctors may soon be able to administer a simple injection to eliminate the deadly virus, helping patients build up enough resistance to fight the cancer on their own. Still, dermatologists advise all individuals to practice safe sunning habits in order to reduce their risk of developing cancer in the first place.

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