About this blog...

Welcome to The Melanoma Updates Blog. This blog is intended to inform and update you on the latest developing information and technology on skin cancer prevention and detection. Dr. Bezozo, President and CEO of MoleSafe http://www.molesafe.com USA, is encouraging conversations on the topic of melanoma - the most threatening and deadliest form of skin cancer that is increasingly diagnosed each year in the U.S. Understanding first-hand how scary the disease is, Dr. B would like to hear your stories and questions about melanoma, while developing conversations that help the at-risk population manage their melanoma concerns.

*MoleSafe USA is the only early detection skin cancer system that detects melanomas up to 15 times earlier than all other traditional examinations done throughout the country.

Could There Be A Link Between Viagra And Melanoma?

April 9th, 2014

This week, Forbes reported on a study which found a possible link between the drug Viagra, a PDE5A inhibitor, and melanoma. The new study is in the early stages, and at this point, it is unable to show a cause and effect relationship. The study looked at data from more than 25,000 men who had taken part in a Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

Men who had recently used sildenafil had nearly twice the risk of developing melanoma after adjusting for other risk factors (hazard ratio 1.84, CI 1.04 – 3.22). Men who had used sildenafil at any time had a similar increase in risk. No increase in risk was observed for other skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) without known links to PDE5A inhibitors. In addition, there was no significant association between erectile function by itself and melanoma.

The study did not look into whether other PDE5A inhibitors, such as Cialis and Levitra, were also associated with melanoma due to the fact that these drugs did not exist at the start of the study. The team does point out however that due to these drugs being longer lasting, they may have an even greater correlation to melanoma.

The authors do caution that due to the observational nature of this study, the results should not be taken as an absolute. There is still much more studying to be done. A prospective study would be required before any clinical recommendations were changed, but it would be a good idea for physicians to suggest skin screenings to patients taking these drugs.

We at MoleSafe are very curious to see the end result of this study, and we do agree that men taking these drugs should seek out a skin surveillance program.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Living Alone Raises Risk Of Melanoma Death In Men

April 2nd, 2014

This week, Fox News reported on a study which found that men who lived alone were at a greater risk of dying from melanoma. The study was based out of Sweden, and researchers looked at data from over 27,000 people diagnosed with the disease between 1990 and 2007.

17% of the 13,400 men with melanoma died during the study period. “The researchers found that among men with melanoma, those living alone were 30 to 50 percent more likely to die from melanoma compared with those living with a partner at the time of their diagnosis”, the article said. These results even held after controlling factors such as education level and location of the tumor.

The team believes that part of the reason why men who lived alone had a higher risk of death, was due to the cancer being found at a later stage. As we know, the best defense against melanoma is early detection, and partners can often help a person to discover an abnormal mole or lesion.

The researchers also found that older women living alone tended to have melanoma that was more advanced when they were diagnosed, but in general, women’s living situations were not linked to their risk of dying from melanoma. Of about 13,850 women with melanoma in the study, about 1,550, or 11 percent died during the study period.

40 to 60 percent of melanoma cases are discovered by patients themselves, or their family members, so it is possible that women are more aware of skin health and how to check themselves. Recent studies have also suggested that there may be biological differences between melanoma in men and women, and this could also be a factor.

We at MoleSafe think that this is a very important study. We need to begin to target the male population when educating people on the dangers of skin cancer. Take a moment to remind the bachelors in your life to join an early detection program.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Skin Cancer Treatments Sold Online Come With A Risk

March 27th, 2014

This week, Health warned about a new trend in which skin cancer patients are seeking alternative “treatments” online. Doctors warn that these patients are courting danger.

Research was done on past cases in which patients sought to treat themselves with “do it at home” remedies found online. “Patients who turned to certain salves often ended up with scarring or extensive tissue damage, researchers found”, the article stated. The article further stated that those with skin cancer often found themselves with more severe cases and were more likely to have a cancer recurrence.

Dr. Adam Friedman, study co-author, explained that not all of these online treatments are useless, but patients need to know how to use them properly. If not used properly, they could lead to damaging results. “Medicine is not about throwing a dart at a dartboard and hoping for the best”, he explains. Patients often end up burning or damaging their skin due to misuse. These findings were presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual meeting which was held in Denver last week, and the research team wants the conclusions to be viewed as preliminary for the time being.

To explain the rapid rise of the Internet as a go-to source for self-help medical information, the study authors pointed to data suggesting the percentage of American adults who search the Web for health-related topics rose from between 40 percent and 50 percent at the turn of the century to 72 percent by 2012. Among those who do so, more than 40 percent specifically home in on sites that discuss complementary and alternative medicine, with considerable attention devoted to mole removal and skin cancer concerns, the study authors said.
The problem here is that the medicine sources found online promote questionable treatments, and if used inappropriately can cause significant pain and scarring.  To look into this risk, the team reviewed 26 self-treatment studies. These were compiled between 2001 and 2012. Men accounted for nearly 77% of these patients. Half of the group had basal cell carcinoma skin cancer, and others sought to remove moles. Bloodroot or zinc chloride were the agents being used in all cases.

In nearly 89% of cases there were poor cosmetic results, and mild to moderate scarring occurred in 57% of cases. The other 43% of patients experienced severe tissue damage. Even though 71% of patients did see some alleviation to their initial problem, more than 56% of patients still had skin cancer after their self treatment. The end result found that only 39% of patients with basal cell carcinoma were fully cured compared to the 95% of patients who are cured using standard medical practice. The message here is that in the end, most of the cases did not have a favorable result.

We at MoleSafe think that this study sends a great message. Trust your doctors! They are there to help you.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!


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Amgen Cancer Vaccine Proven Effective For Late Stage Melanoma

March 19th, 2014

This week, The Huffington Post reported on a new cancer vaccine which has proven to be effective for late stage melanoma. The experimental drug by Amgen Inc. was capable of shrinking tumors, which suggested that it triggered a systematic immune response. This was the intended goal of the drug.

The vaccine shrank not only tumors that were directly injected with the drug, but also surrounding tumors in the body. The drug is called talimogene laherparepvec, T-vec for short, and it is a virus which has been engineered to multiply within the injected tumors. This kills cancer cells.

Amgen last year released initial data from the 295-patient Phase III study showing that T-vec succeeded in demonstrating a significant tumor response that lasted at least six months. The latest data analyzed 4,000 tumor lesions to study the response to the drug in injected versus non-injected tumors. Of the directly injected tumors, 64 percent shrank by at least half, and 47 percent of those had a complete response, meaning the lesion had disappeared, researchers said. Of the uninjected lesions in the skin or lymph nodes, known as non-visceral tumor lesions, 34 percent shrank by at least half with a complete response seen in 21 percent of those.

The team also wants to see the effects of the drug on distant tumors such as on the liver and lungs. Of these tumors, it appears that there was a 15% shrinkage by at least 50%. This indicates that activation is occurring within the immune system, and not just at injection sites.

Amgen plans on having more information available within the first half of this year. This information would reveal whether T-vec helped patients in the study live longer. The team believes that the drug would ultimately be used in tandem with other melanoma drugs, and they have already begun to combine the drug with Yervoy.

We at MoleSafe find this study to be very promising, and applaud this team for working with other drug companies to find the perfect melanoma fighting drug combination.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Young Skin Cancer Survivors At Increased Risk For Other Cancers

March 13th, 2014

This week, WebMD reported on a study which found that younger survivors of skin cancer were found to be at an increased risk for other cancers. Researchers conducted the study by analyzing data from 500,000 people with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer. These people were followed for 5 to 6 years, and then the statistics were compared to a group of 8.7 million people who had never had non-melanoma skin cancer.

The non-melanoma skin cancer group was 1.36 times more likely to develop other types of cancer. It was then found that the younger the patient, the greater the risk; 23 times higher for those younger than 25, and 3.5 times higher for those between 25 and 44.  There were 30 types of cancer that these patients were at risk for. Those cancers include breast, colon, bladder, and prostate. “People who had nonmelanoma skin cancer before age 25 were 53 times more likely to develop bone cancer, 26 times more likely to get blood cancers, 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with brain cancer, and 14 times more likely to get any cancer other than skin cancer”, the article said.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, and it notes that non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common form of skin cancer. These findings show that young non-melanoma skin cancer patients would benefit from cancer screenings.

We at MoleSafe could not agree more! Early detection programs such as MoleSafe, are your best form of protection.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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The Importance of Telemedicine

March 7th, 2014

This week, NJBIZ interviewed our very own Dr. Bezozo for their Triple Play. Dr. Bezozo spoke about the importance of telemedicine programs such as MoleSafe. NJBIZ asked for three reasons why telemedicine will improve patient care. Here’s what he had to say:

1. Preventive Care: There are many preventive measures for people who may be at high risk for certain conditions, such as melanoma and other types of cancers, and telemedicine provides greater access to quality care. Getting screened for various types of cancers and enrolling in early detection and surveillance programs will increase one’s odds of avoiding cancer or detecting it at the earliest, most treatable and curable stages.

2. Education: This is needed for patients and doctors alike, to identify the diseases that individuals may be at high risk for developing and identify early detection programs and preventative care to decrease health care costs and increase the quality of life for all individuals.

3. Standard of care: Effectively utilizing technology offered through telemedicine results in several patient benefits, including improved access, reduced cost of health care, reduced travel times and money spent, fewer hospital stays due to early or preventive care, improved quality of care and high patient satisfaction. The adoption of telemedicine will drastically improve quality of care.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Good Sun Sense Is Key When Vacationing

February 27th, 2014

This week, the Asbury Park Press featured an article with commentary by our very own Dr. Bezozo. The article brought up the fact that one must be vigilant with their skin care, especially while on vacation. One of the worst ways to end a vacation is with a nasty sunburn.

Dr. Bezozo’s tips include applying sunscreen liberally. He says that sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before sun exposure, and should have an SPF of 30 or higher. He suggests that sunscreen be re-applied every hour and a half to two hours. If you’re swimming, it is especially important to re-apply. Dr. Bezozo also brings up that fact that expired sunscreen should not be used.

Sun shields are another suggestion. These include sunglasses, shirts, hats, and umbrellas. Your skin needs a break and these are the best ways to do so. He reminds us that the sun’s highest intensity lasts from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m., so sun shields come most in handy during these times.

Dr. Bezozo reminds us that while darker skin tones of African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians are less likely to contract melanoma, they are also more likely to have an advanced case of skin cancer if it is contracted. This is due to a much lower likelihood of skin cancer being discussed. No matter how dark one’s skin tone is, we should always be checking our skin and being aware of the risks.

How do we check our skin? The ABCDEs of detection are recommended. “Moles that exhibit Asymmetry, possess an irregular Border, are made up of more than one Color, are larger than 5 mm (the size of a pencil eraser) in Diameter, or have undergone an Evolution or change should be seen by a doctor,” Dr. Bezozo said.

And finally, Dr. Bezozo suggests that the best medicine is simply prevention. Early detection is the only cure for skin cancer.

We at MoleSafe love the doctor’s tips and know that they will lead to a happy and healthy vacation!

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Tumor Growth May Be Slowed By Starving Melanoma Cells

February 20th, 2014

This week, Medical News Today reported on a study being conducted in Australia, which found that cell growth could be slowed by blocking the pumps that melanoma cells use to acquire nutrients.  They admit that the research is in the early stages, but they hope that the findings could lead to new melanoma drugs. The team consists of researchers from Sydney’s Centenary Institute and the University of Sydney.

Non-cancerous cells rely on glucose for energy, but cancer cells require the amino acid glutamine. Pumps which are scattered all over the cell are used to pump this in. Dr. Jeff Holst, who led the study, found that blocking these pumps prevented the cells from growing. Lab-grown cells were used for the study, as well as a compound called BenSer.

Dr. Holst points out that this finding shows that they can stop melanoma cells from growing. It also allows for a new approach on current treatments. The team estimates that it will take about 5 to 10 years to develop a drug that would be available for melanoma patients, but this is a very important first step.

We at MoleSafe are very excited about this study. This is such a huge step in the direction of being able to treat melanoma.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Could An Oral Anti-Fungal Treat Skin Cancer?

February 5th, 2014

This week, Stanford School of Medicine reported on a study which found that a common anti-fungal drug called itraconazole could be capable of treating basal cell carcinoma. The study tested the drug’s effectiveness in treating patients who had multiple basal cell carcinoma tumors.

Researchers conducted a phase-II clinical trial with 29 patients. Their tumors totaled at 101. The results found that within a month the size and spread of most tumors had decreased. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, with 3 million people in the United States alone being affected each year.

The study describes the first evidence of itraconazole’s usefulness in treating this type of skin cancer. It also demonstrates how an existing drug can be repurposed to treat cancer, said Jean Tang, MD, PhD, associate professor of dermatology and senior author of the study. Daniel Kim, a graduate student at Stanford, is the lead author. “New drugs cost about $800 million and an average of 10 years to develop,” Tang said. “We are shortcutting the process by using a drug that’s already been around for 25 years and given to tens of thousands of people.”

The anti-fungal drug works by blocking production of a membrane component. In cancer cells, the drug seems to disable a signaling pathway. This pathway is called the Hedgehog pathway, and provides signals for cell growth and development. For this current study, Tang partnered with Philip Beachy. Beachy already had experience with the Hedgehog pathway, and wanted to find drugs which already existed that could block this pathway. He knew that starting from scratch was too financially risky.

The team screened 2,400 drugs before settling on itraconazole. In the first clinical trial, patients took the pills twice a day for one month. Another group was given a smaller dosage for 10 weeks. In the first group, tumor size was reduced by 24%, and the second group showed similar results. The team’s next step is to test the medicine over longer periods of time.

We at MoleSafe wish this team the best of luck! An easy treatment for basal cell carcinoma would certainly be a great thing.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Indoor Tanning Linked To More Cancer Cases Than Smoking

January 31st, 2014

This week, Fox News reported on a study which found that indoor tanning led to more cases of cancer than smoking. Past research found that more than a third of adults in the Western world had tried indoor tanning before. Based on these exposures, scientists were able to conclude that tanning had out-ranked smoking as a leading cause of cancer.

Dr. Eleni Linos led the study with his team based out of the University of California: San Francisco. What the team wanted to find out was how common indoor tanning exposure was in the U.S. as well as internationally. In 2007, the World Health Organization found that people who used tanning beds before they turned 30 were 75% more likely to develop skin cancer. “That added risk translates to about seven more women out of every 10,000 developing melanoma. For example, one past study showed that 24 out of 10,000 women who regularly used tanning beds developed melanoma compared to 17 out 10,000 women who rarely or never used them”. This led to their 2009 decision to label indoor tanning as a high-level carcinogen.

Previous research had estimated tanning bed use in individual countries, but Linos and her team looked to find a world-wide statistic. They wanted to see how much of a problem tanning was for the population.

For the new analysis, the researchers compiled data collected between 1986 and 2012 as part of 88 previous studies. The studies included data from almost 500,000 people in the U.S., Australia and 14 countries in Eastern and Western Europe. Overall, they found that about 36 percent of adults and 55 percent of college students reported exposure to indoor tanning sometime in their past. The proportion was smaller for teens – about one in five. Younger people, however, were more likely to be actively indoor tanning with about 43 percent of college students and about 18 percent of teens reporting use in the past year. That compared to about 14 percent of adults. The researchers estimated that about 419,000 cases of basal and squamous cell carcinoma and almost 11,000 cases of melanoma each year are attributable to indoor tanning.

In order to put that data into perspective, about 363,000 cases of lung cancer are attributed to smoking in the same countries which were studied. The team says that the study is very timely, for many states in the U.S. are currently trying to decide whether or not to ban indoor tanning. Currently, 33 states as well as the District of Columbia  monitor the use of tanning beds by minors.

We at MoleSafe think that this study is just another perfect example of why tanning is unhealthy. We applaud the team for trying to educate the public about the dangers of tanning.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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