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.

FDA Approves Bristol-Meyers’ Melanoma Therapy

October 1st, 2015

This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved Bristol-Meyers’ new combination melanoma treatment. This treatment uses the company’s drugs Yervoy and Opdivo. The first year of treatment will cost more than $250,000.

Both Yervoy and Opdivo had previously been approved individually by the FDA as immunotherapy treatment. A study conducted by Bristol-Meyers found that the combination  decreased tumors in 60% of patients as opposed to only 11% in patients taking Yervoy alone. The combination does however increase the effects of side effects such as colitis.

Yervoy is given in four set treatments over 12 weeks, and Opdivo  is taken until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

We at MoleSafe hope that this treatment proves to be successful. This could be a big step towards beating melanoma.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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The Lymphoma-Melanoma Connection

September 21st, 2015

This week, the Oncology Times reported on a link which has been found between non-Hodgkin lymphoma  (NHL) treated with chemotherapy and melanoma.  This has led researches to agree that  survivors of NHL should submit themselves to frequent skin checks. This would increase the odds of finding the skin cancer early.

For NHL survivors  secondary cancers are a common cause of morbidity. It seems that most of the NHL patients contracting melanoma were treated with  fludarabine. These people had a two -fold increased chance of getting the disease.

The  exact reason behind this remains unknown. The research team hopes to be able to conclude which immune system changes allow for the secondary cancer. Unfortunately this second hand melanoma also tends to be fairly aggressive.

While the team agreed that more research needed to be done to check for controls and other variables, they could conclude that NHL survivors needed to have regular skin checks.

We at MoleSafe think that this is a step in the right direction. The earlier skin cancer is spotted, the better.

What  do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Radiotherapy May Suppress Natural Ability To Fight Skin Cancer

September 9th, 2015

This week, The Daily Mail reported on a study which found that radiotherapy may be doing more harm than good for skin cancer patients. Doctors have found that the therapy may be attacking the immune system. ‘Langerhans cells’, when hit with radiation, create new cells which suppress this vital system.

This happens when the cells head towards the lymph nodes of the body. This creates regulatory T-cells which slows the body’s immune system. Langerhans cells are located in the epidermis, so doctors are recommending that large areas of the skin do not receive radiotherapy.

Some doctors have not written the treatment off completely, however. They remind us that the treatment is still useful for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer. The treatment is also used for older patients with whom surgery might be too dangerous.

We at MoleSafe agree that completely cancelling out radiotherapy may be jumping the gun, but that patients and their doctors should continue to do more research on this topic.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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What To Look For After Skin Cancer Incidence

September 1st, 2015

This week, Laura Landro from the Wall Street Journal reported on a topic many people don’t even think about, what happens after skin cancer. The answer to this question is sometimes a re-occurrence.  In fact, patients that have had basal cell carcinoma have a 40% chance of having that skin cancer, or another type, come back. With the sharp rise in non-melanoma skin cancer, doctors are becoming even more vigilant in urging patients to take care of their skin.

The two main types of non-melanoma skin cancer, both linked to excessive sun exposure, can be cured if treated promptly. Basal cell carcinomas, which are abnormal lesions or growths which arise in cells that line the deepest layer of the epidermis—the outermost layer of skin—rarely spread, but can be disfiguring if not treated promptly. Squamous cell carcinomas, which begin in the skin’s upper layers, can grow deeper, destroying tissue and bone and spreading to other parts of the body.

After having either one of these cancers, not only do the patients have a chance of these cancers coming back, they also have an increased risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer. There also seems to be a risk of developing a second primary cancer such as prostate or breast. An extensive study saw a 35% increase from 2006 to 2012 in the amount of non-melanoma skin cancers. That means that this is an ongoing issue.

For some patients, these skin cancers grow at a fast rate, and many people are having upwards of 10 or 20 non-melanoma skin cancer removal surgeries. The people who are most at risk for this are white males, but white females have seen an increase in recent years, especially ones who took part of the indoor tanning craze during the late 90s and early 2000s.

Doctors try to convey the idea that it is never too late to begin to be vigilant about your skin safety. Any sun safe practices are beneficial, and people should never be hesitant to start. The lack of knowledge of these practices in the 195os and 1960s has led to a lot of these cases. We have the knowledge and power now to make the epidemic end.

We at MoleSafe agree with this article. People can start being sun smart today, and it will still make a big difference and huge impact. Be smart for not only yourself, but those around you too.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Scientists Find What Keeps Moles From Becoming Melanoma

August 13th, 2015

This week, WebMD reported on scientists discovering what prevents moles from becoming melanoma. We currently know that the BRAF mutation is responsible for the growth of moles, but before this study researchers were unsure what told the mole to stop growing. The answer seems to be a protein known as p15 which suppresses tumor growth.

When p15 is missing, the cells are unable to stop growing, hence the overtaking of melanoma. Researchers hope to find what other cancers p15 contributes to, and hope that this will lead to a better understanding of how melanoma develops. That understanding could only further lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of melanoma.

We at MoleSafe think that these studies are very important. The more we understand the mechanisms behind this deadly cancer, the better we will be able to save lives.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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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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