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.

Scientists Find Another Frequently Mutated Gene in Melanoma

July 30th, 2015

This week, Medical News Today reported on a study conducted by Yale University. The study, which was reported in Nature Genetics, found a new mutation which seems to be common in melanoma. This mutation involves NF1, and follows only BRAF and NRAS mutations. For the study, the researchers analyzed mutations from over 200 melanoma samples using whole exome sequencing.

NF1 was found to be a “major player”. Author Michael Krauthammer noted that “…45% of melanomas that do not harbor the known BRAF or NRAS mutations display loss of NF1 function…”. This seems to lead to the very same cancer causing pathway as a BRAF or NRAS mutation.

The analysis also reveals that the NF1 mutation mostly arose in samples from older patients with more mutations in their tumors. These include mutations in genes that affect the same signaling pathway, known collectively as RASopathy genes. However, note the authors, while NF1 is the third most commonly mutated gene, on its own it does not cause cancer. A cluster of genetic changes, of which mutated NF1 is but one, is required to make a tumor.

Dr. Ruth Halaban concluded that the study identified about 100 changes in genes that present themselves in malignant cells. These are likely to cause cancer. This group of genes could now be applied to personalized cancer treatments, and allow precision medicine to diagnose lesions that are malignant. This study will further open the door for more research regarding anticancer drugs.

We at MoleSafe fully support such experiments. The more scientists learn about these tricky cancer cells, the better we will be able to target the root of the disease.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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A Potential Link Between Citrus Fruit And Melanoma

July 9th, 2015

Fox News reported on a possible link that scientists are finding between citrus fruit and melanoma.  Data for the study was taken from two long-term studies of men and women. Scientists did admit that the study did not test whether the fruit was the exact cause, and that more work needs to be done to confirm this connection.

The researchers used data on more than 63,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 41,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, both of which ran from the mid-1980s to 2010. Every two to four years, researchers collected data on participants’ dietary patterns, and the men and women self-reported health events like melanoma diagnosis, which were confirmed with medical records. The participants answered questions about how frequently they consumed grapefruit, oranges, grapefruit juice or orange juice, and the total of these four categories was considered an estimate of “overall citrus consumption,” although it does not include other citruses like lemons and limes. Over more than 20 years of follow-up, the researchers noted 1,840 cases of melanoma. Compared to people who ate citrus less than twice a week, those who ate citrus two to four times per week had a 10 percent increased risk of melanoma.

The risk of melanoma had a 36 percent increase in people who consumed citrus fruit more than one and a half times per day. They found that grapefruit seemed to have the highest association. The scientists even took geographic location and sun exposure into consideration. They feel that the possible link may be caused by furocoumarins which are photoactive compounds found in citrus fruits. This makes sun exposure more damaging to skin cells.

The scientists closed with saying that more testing needs to be done before public health messages are released, but that people consuming larger amounts of citrus fruit need to be extra careful in the sun.

We at MoleSafe think that while this study needs to be further explored, it is yet another important reminder to always be sun safe.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Study On Viagra And The Risk Of Melanoma

June 26th, 2015

This week, CBSNews reported on a study which looked into whether or not their was a correlation between Viagra and melanoma. The study also looked at other impotence drugs such as Cialis and Levitra. The scientists involved in the study looked at the data of over 20,000 men, and while they did find a higher risk of the disease in these men, they believe this is more due to lifestyle choices rather than the actual drugs.

Dr. Stacy Loeb, the lead researcher, says that there is no evidence of a relationship between the two. She referenced a study done in 2014, which had some alarming results and found a correlation. She wasn’t convinced, however, and decided to dig deeper since she had many concerned patients.

Her team looked at federal data from Sweden on melanoma cases there, and on Swedes’ medication use. They specifically zeroed in on the records of more than 20,000 Swedish men, most of whom were white. Between 2006 and 2012, more than 4,000 of the men were diagnosed with melanoma, the records showed. By cross-referencing the more than 2,000 men who had taken Viagra, Levitra or Cialis with the melanoma group, the team determined that 435 men who’d been treated with impotence meds also developed skin cancer. Overall, men who took an erectile dysfunction drug did have a 21 percent higher risk for melanoma than those who did not, the study found.
The catch is that the study cannot prove cause and effect. The study also could not find a correlation between taking a higher dose of these drugs and having a greater risk for melanoma. Finding a “dose-relationship” would be key in determining if these drugs were actually causing skin cancer. The team also noted that the risk for basal cell carcinoma, which develops very differently than melanoma, was also at the same rate. This further undermined the idea that it was the drugs causing the cancer.

So what is the correlation here? Loeb thinks it is purely that the men taking these drugs, which tend to be expensive, are living lifestyles which places them more at risk for skin cancer. They found that the men who are most at risk tended to have higher incomes and educational backgrounds. Hence, the men who are able to afford these drugs.

Her sum of the experiment was very simple. She believes that men should continue to limit their sun exposure.

We at MoleSafe think that this is a very important study. It should alert men that they too are at risk for melanoma.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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U.S. Melanoma Rate is Double What It Was 30 Years Ago

June 3rd, 2015

This week, the Los Angeles Times reported on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) find that the rate of melanoma has doubled since 30 years ago. Researchers marked 65,647 new cases of the cancer in 2011. After age was adjusted for, the statistics worked out to be 19.7 cases out of 100,000 Americans. These numbers are beyond hazardous.

Non-Latino whites had the highest incidence of melanoma by far, with 24.6 cases for every 100,000 people. At the other end of the spectrum were African Americans, with 1 case per 100,000 people, along with Asians and Pacific Islanders, who had 1.3 cases per 100,000 people. Latinos also had a low incidence, with 4.1 diagnoses for every 100,000 people. Through age 49, women were more likely than men to be diagnosed with melanoma, the report said. This is partially due to the popularity of indoor tanning among younger white women — nearly one-third of white women between 16 and 25 visit a tanning parlor at least once a year, according to a 2013 study in JAMA Internal Medicine. From age 50 on, however, the incidence was higher in men, who are less likely to use sunscreen or other forms of sun protection, the CDC study said.

As a result of melanoma, 9,128 Americans died in 2011. That means that the age-adjusted rate of mortality was 2.7 deaths per 100,000 American people. 95% of these deaths were non-Latino whites. Interestingly enough, the mortality rate between 1982 and 2011 stayed the same, despite the incidence increase. The CDC believes that if things to not change, by 2030 there will be 112,000 new cases that year. Treatment costs would rise up to $1.6 billion.

The researchers point out that this is preventable. By using sun smart programs such as the one developed in Victoria, Australia, the public can be educated on the true dangers of the cancer. The program in Victoria has prevented more than 9,000 incidences and 1,000 deaths over a period of 15 years. If this program or a similar one were to be adopted in the U.S., 230,000 cases of melanoma could be prevented between 2020 and 2030.

We at MoleSafe believe that a sun smart program is exactly what the United States need. MoleSafe would certainly be a major part of such a program.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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A Link Between Teenage Acne And Melanoma

May 21st, 2015

This week, The Clinical Advisor reported on a study which found a link between teenage acne and melanoma. This elevated risk is independent from known risk factors. The study was led by  Mingfeng Zhang, MD, PhD, from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

99,128 female nurses were followed for the study, which looked at 20 years of their health history. The risks of eight specific cancers were studied in these women who had severe acne during their teenage years. Among women with this history, the research team found an increased relative risk for melanoma. This was after a full adjustment for known risk factors.

This association was replicated in an independent melanoma case-control study involving 930 cases and 1,026 controls (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio, 1.27). In both studies, the likelihood of having moles was increased for those with teenage acne (P < 0.001 in the cohort study and P = 0.004 in the case-control study).

The team concluded that their is a definite link  between acne and melanoma, and agree that more studies need to be conducted to find the severity of the link.

We at MoleSafe think that this is a very important study. This allows us to warn teenage acne patients in advance of their risk, and help them to protect themselves. Hopefully, we will be able to end this link through providing patients with the knowledge of their risk.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Wi-Fi That Only Works In The Shade

May 8th, 2015

This week, PSFK reported on a company that intends to make wi-fi available only to those in the shade. Shadow Wi-Fi will be setting up hot-spots on beaches all around the world. This system, developed by Happiness Brussells provides a physical protection from the sun, and also a sensor tracked wi-fi signal. The sensor ensures that the wi-fi travels with the shade throughout the day. Users will be forced to move as the day goes by in order to keep their signal.

Cancer foundations see much potential in this. Not only does Shadow Wi-Fi educate people as to the importance of staying in the shade during peak hours, it also provides valuable statistics on how long people are staying in the shade. All in all, it’s a pretty cool way to hang on the beach.

We at MoleSafe think that this is a pretty innovative idea. If technology can help people to stay in the shade, we’re all for it.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Dissolving Melanoma Tumor

April 30th, 2015

This week, Live Science reported on a case study which saw a tumor in a woman’s chest disappear. This woman was taking a new combination therapy of two melanoma drugs, and the tumor dissolved so quickly, it left a cavity in the woman’s chest.  As of her last checkup, the 49-year old patient was free of the cancer.

What surprised scientists was how quickly the therapy took effect. They do warn however that this is not the case for every patient, and that there can be some side effects such as severe diarrhea. The therapy combines Yervoy with Opdivo. The two drugs have not yet been approved by the FDA to be used together, but have been approved separately.

In the study, 142 people were given treatment. Some patients were given the combination, and others were given Yervoy with a placebo. Neither the patients nor their doctors knew who had received the placebo until after the study was completed. The new combination had the best results.

In one analysis, the researchers focused on 109 patients who did not have a mutation in a gene called the BRAF gene. (BRAF mutations are linked to a number of cancers, including melanoma, and there are other melanoma drugs that target BRAF mutations.) Among the 72 people in this group who took the combination, 61 percent saw their cancer shrink, compared with just 11 percent of the 37 people in the group who took only ipilimumab. What’s more, melanoma was undetectable in 22 percent of the combination group at the end of the study, which was funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb, which makes the drugs. None of the people taking ipilimumab plus a placebo saw their melanoma disappear by the time the study had ended.

To many, 22 percent may not sound like a high number, but in the melanoma world it is a very significant number. A complete treatment response is seen as the “holy grail”. Doctors will continue to follow these patients, to see if the cancer reoccurs.

The one downside to the combination is the side effects. Severe diarrhea, colitis, and endocrine issues presented themselves. 54 percent of patients taking the combination therapy reported having these issues. Only 24 percent of patients reported having these problems when taking just the Yervoy.

Treatments are typically given three weeks apart, but some patients are literally unable to tolerate anymore than two out of the suggested four treatments. Doctors warn that the side effects can be very brutal. In the future they may try to decrease the amount of treatments needed.

We at MoleSafe are truly excited about the prospects of this study. To be this much closer to a cure is truly exciting.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Rise In Skin Cancer May Be Linked To Vacation Packages

April 17th, 2015

This week, the Huffington Post posted an article which commented on figures released by Cancer Research UK. The figures found that around 5,700 retired people in Great Britain are diagnosed with melanoma each year, verse the mere 600 people during the mid 1970s. This means that adults over 65 are now about seven times more likely to develop skin cancer. This huge jump in numbers has forced people to ask why.

Researchers believe that the link lies in the cheap vacation packages which began to become available during the 1960s. These packages often advertised the ability to get a “healthy tan”, a term we now know to be impossible. For the first time, the masses were able to feel luxurious in exotic places, and the amount of people tanning severely increased. These people are now at older ages and unfortunately suffering consequences.

“Getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple your risk of developing malignant melanoma and even reddening of the skin is a sign of damage,” the article stated. Unfortunately, this information was not widely known during these times.

We at MoleSafe think that this is a very important find. It further highlights the need for sun safety education. The more people we educate now, the more we can help later.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Study Halted On Merck Melanoma Drug

March 28th, 2015

This week, Fox News reported that Merck would be ending its study of melanoma drug Keytruda early. This stoppage is due to the fact that the drug has proven very successful in a study done by an independent company.

The medicine, a PD-1 inhibitor that works by taking the brakes off the immune system, is already approved to treat patients who have failed to benefit from standard treatments, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co’s Yervoy. Patients taking Keytruda showed meaningful improvement in overall survival and in delayed progression of disease, compared with those taking Yervoy, Merck said. The data, if regulators agree, could allow Merck to widen its marketing of Keytruda to people being treated for the first time for the dangerous skin disease.

Merck said that the safety of the drug was similar in this study to previous ones. Common side effects included fatigue, coughing, and nausea. All in all, the side effects were generally mild. Keytruda is the first PD-1 inhibitor drug approved by the FDA. It is meant for patients who are no longer responding to other treatments. The drug is also being tested for use with lung cancer. Merck is hoping to have it approved for that use by mid-year.

Other pharmaceutical companies are also developing their own PD-1 inhibitor drugs. Wall Street foresees the drugs generating sales of over $30 billion each year.

We at MoleSafe find this to be a very exciting prospect. We hope to see the FDA approve the drug’s use for melanoma soon.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Skin Cancer Hostages In Washington D.C.

March 19th, 2015

This week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the “red tape” that seems to have more advanced sunscreens backlogged by the FDA. It seems that the administration is doing everything in its power to defy Congress and the White House, by refusing to push for the use of more modern sunscreens found elsewhere around the world. Like medicine, the FDA is responsible for approving the ingredients in our sunscreen, and with the rising incidence of skin cancer in the United States, it is becoming more and more important for advanced sun protectors to be used. What is confusing, is the fact that the FDA has had a twelve year blockade on these advanced sunscreens.

Since the 1990s, advanced sunscreens that counter the UV-A rays that contribute to carcinomas have been widely sold in Europe, Canada and Asia. Americans must rely on an older generation that merely prevents sunburn, because since 2002 the FDA has refused to provide up-or-down answers for eight pending applications to approve the superior compounds. Last year the Surgeon General declared skin cancer a public-health crisis—there are now 63,000 new cases each year of melanoma, the deadliest form. So Congress tried to thaw the FDA deep freeze with the Sunscreen Innovation Act, which passed both chambers unanimously and President Obama signed. The law imposed hard deadlines under a process meant to expedite products that are “generally recognized as safe and effective,” i.e., commercially available in other countries.

The FDA responded by denying all eight applications for new sunscreens within a few weeks. They want more data and studies done on the products before approval can go through. This is confusing because everywhere else in the world, these sunscreens have been used for years. An ingredient, ecamsule, was also rejected for over the counter use, despite being approved in 2006 for prescription. Ecamsule is common in these new lotions.

The FDA says that they are concerned with the long term effects of these lotions. They want studies to be done to see if the absorption of these chemicals by the skin will have any long-term consequences. They also mention that previous sunblocks were approved basically due to lack of study. In other words if the old sunscreens were up for approval now, they might not have been accepted.

Here at MoleSafe, we like to believe that the FDA is doing everything it can to keep us healthy and happy, but we would like to see a more progressive action taken towards studying these new skin protectants.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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