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.

Specific Genetic Defect May Increase Melanoma Susceptibility

August 13th, 2014

This week, Oncology Nurse Advisor reported on a study which found that a genetic defect in a particular hormonal pathway may make people more prone to developing melanoma. This would mean that melanoma susceptibility is based on more than the amount of melanin people have in their skin.

Published in Molecular Cell (2014; doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2013.08.010), the study looked at the role of the melanocortin1 receptor (MC1R), the receptor on melanocytes in the skin that gets called into action following ultraviolet exposure to help the skin lay down more UV-blocking melanin to protect itself. Fair-skinned people are more likely to inherit a defect in this receptor, and as a result, cannot make enough melanin for full protection from UV damage. Since UV from sunlight or tanning beds is a major cause of melanoma, inherited problems in the MC1R means that the skin lacks natural protection by melanin. This leads to more UV light chronically getting through to the sensitive layers of the epidermis, where it can contribute to cancer.

The study showed that MC1R defects can also contribute to the development of melanoma in other ways than just melanin production. MC1R also controls how well melanocytes can repair their DNA from UV damage. Any defect in the signaling of MC1R can cause delays in the body’s ability to clear out existing DNA damage. This can lead to an increased risk in mutations which ultimately causes cancer.

Knowing about a predisposition for melanoma could help many people take extra precautions when being out in the sun. People with an MC1R defect would know to be extra cautious, and could therefore make smarter sun safety decisions.

We at MoleSafe believe that everyone should be taking extra precautions in the sun, but we do believe that knowing about a genetic mutation is certainly a good idea.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Surgeon General Issues Skin Cancer Warning

August 1st, 2014

This week, the big news centered around the Surgeon General issuing a warning against skin cancer. CNN reported on the General’s call to action. With nearly 5 million people treated for skin cancer every year, the acting General Dr. Boris Lushniak, said that the issue required immediate action. This is the first time the Surgeon General has ever commented on protecting one’s skin.

Five goals have been set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These include providing shade in parks and reducing the amount of indoor tanning. Dr. Lushniak also pointed out that parents need to become more proactive in teaching their children about sun safety. He believes that this should go hand in hand with teaching children about dental hygiene and healthy eating habits.

The largest takeaway from the warning however, was when Lushniak said, “We have to change the social norms about tanning…”. He pointed out that tanned skin is not healthy skin, despite what many people believe. There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Along with this warning, The House of Representatives passed the Sunscreen Innovation Act this week. This new bill includes a review process by which all new sunscreens would need to be checked by the Food and Drug Administration. This should help to relive the current backlog of sunscreen applications.

This, along with new legislation towards indoor tanning should all help to alert the public on the dangers of tanning. Together, we can all help to spread the word on sun safety and change the public’s thoughts on tanning.

We at MoleSafe are also happy to see that early detection programs are a part of the Surgeon General’s plan to protect the public from skin cancer.  We know that this is the ultimate ally in the fight against all types of skin cancer.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Itching and Pain Could Be Indicators Of Skin Cancer

July 24th, 2014

This week, Fox News reported on a study which found that itching or pain on lesions could indicate skin cancer. The research was done at Temple University in Philadelphia, using 339 confirmed skin cancer lesions from 268 patients at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.

Patients were asked to rate any pain and itching associated with their lesions. Nearly 37% of the cancerous lesions were identified with itching, and 28.2% were identified with pain. The team believes that this could change how doctors address a patient’s symptoms. They believe that asking about itching or pain could now be included in the list of questions which doctors ask about lesions.

Pain and itching were more prevalent in patients with non-melanoma skin cancers. Patients with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) experienced more pain, while those with basal cell carcinoma (BCC) complained more about itching. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an estimated 700,000 cases of SCC and an estimated 2.8 million cases of BCC— the most frequently occurring form of skin cancer— are diagnosed each year in the United States.

The team believes that these symptoms may help doctors hone in on which lesions to pay most attention to. This is especially important with elderly patients who have many lesions, and transplant patients who are susceptible to skin cancer. They also noted that the lesions which are more aggressively painful or itchy may indicate a more aggressive cancer. “Itching comes from the nerve fibers in the upper layers of skin, where basal cell carcinomas are usually found. Squamous cell carcinomas can penetrate deep into the skin and form ulcers, causing more pain,” the article stated.

The article concludes that these findings should not be used in replacement for other diagnostic tests, and lesions should still be removed and studied.

We at MoleSafe agree with the team that these findings should not be used as an absolute, but there is certainly information here which is worth further studying.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Study Finds that Sunscreen Isn’t Enough to Protect You from Melanoma: Protect Your Skin This Summer with More Than Just Sunscreen

July 15th, 2014

By Richard Bezozo, M.D., president of MoleSafe

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there will be approximately 76,100 new cases of melanoma diagnoses and approximately 9,710 melanoma deaths in the US throughout 2014. Since prevention is the only cure for melanoma, understanding and practicing skin and sun safety is critical in defending you and your loved ones from this deadly disease. Wearing sunscreen on a regular basis is seen as one of the most important preventative actions that one can take against skin cancer.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the Cancer Research UK’s Manchester Institute took an in-depth look at the effectiveness of sunscreen and its relationship with the development of melanoma. The study exposed a group of mice to UV radiation, half of which wore sunscreen and half who did not. While all of the exposed mice developed melanoma by the end of the study, the researchers found that the disease developed noticeably earlier in the mice that did not have sunscreen applied to their skin. The findings of the study demonstrate that while sunscreen does delay the progression of melanoma, is does not solely prevent the cancer from developing. A combination of applying sunscreen regularly and practicing the following steps is the best means to preventing melanoma.

  1. Wear protective clothing. Covering up your skin is the most straight-forward approach to avoiding skin damage from sun exposure. The sun produces UV radiation at all temperatures, so it is important to cover up and protect your skin during both the summer heat and the cooler weather. In cooler weather, protect your skin from the sun by wearing clothing such as scarves, jackets, hats, long pants and gloves. For warmer days, consider wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, hats and dark clothing and bathing suits that contain an ultraviolet protective factor.
  2. 2. Avoid exposure during the sun’s strongest hours. Sun and UV ray exposure is a very preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Minimizing your time outdoors during 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the suns UV rays are strongest, is firmly advised to help avoid development of the disease. Whether you are looking to lay poolside or enjoy your favorite outdoor activity, consider doing so in a shaded area, such as under an umbrella or tree.
  3. Conduct self-skin exams and enroll in an early detection and screening programs. When it comes to skin cancer and melanoma, getting regular screenings, monitoring your skin over time and early detection are the best defenses to avoiding and fighting the deadly disease. It is recommended that you perform monthly self skin exams, checking all areas of your skin thoroughly.  Follow the ABCDE rule, which stands for asymmetrical shape, border, color, diameter and evolution; all of which are important irregularities to look for when you are examining your skin. If you find one or more of these signs or find a suspicious mole or lesion, be sure to visit your physician. Regular visits to your doctor as well as enrolling in an early detection and surveillance program are strongly suggested. When looking for an early detection screening program to enroll in, look for comprehensive programs that incorporate the most advanced melanoma detecting technologies, including digital dermoscopy, sequential monitoring and total body photography, in order to have peace of mind and to ensure that you are receiving the most highly effective care available.

It is very important to understand that there is no single way to prevent melanoma. It is a balanced combination of many preventative steps that will be the best means to preventing this dangerous and deadly disease. This summer, I encourage you to practice these safe-sun tips, perform monthly self-checks and take the time to make an appointment to get your skin screened by enrolling in an early detection and surveillance program.

For more information on melanoma screenings and the MoleSafe early detection program, visit us at www.molesafe.com.

Richard Bezozo, M.D., is the president of MoleSafe.

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3 Additional Ways To Protect Against Melanoma

July 10th, 2014

Two blogs ago, we discussed a recent study which found that sunscreen alone did not protect against melanoma. This past week, Glamour Magazine decided to get in on the discussion, and consulted our very own Dr. Bezozo for tips on what other ways people can protect themselves.

Just to refresh your memory, the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute conducted a study where mice were exposed to UV radiation.  Half of the mice had sunscreen on them and half did not. Unfortunately, both groups of mice developed melanoma, but the difference was in the timing. The mice that wore sunscreen developed the skin cancer at a more delayed rate. The conclusion from the study was that sunscreen alone may not be enough.

So what are we supposed to do? Dr. Bezozo says that we should still be using our sunscreen vigilantly, but he also suggests three other things to maximize our sun protection:

Wear protective clothing. “Covering up your skin is the most straight-forward approach to avoiding skin damage from sun exposure,” he says. “The sun produces UV radiation at all temperatures, so it is important to cover up and protect your skin during both the summer heat and the cooler weather.” That means, on warmer days, breaking out the UV-blocking sunglasses, sun hats, and swimwear that have UV protection in them. For cooler weather, long pants, gloves, scarves, and jackets are key.

Stay inside during the sun’s strongest hours. “Minimizing your time outdoors during 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., when the suns UV rays are strongest, is firmly advised to help avoid development of the disease,” Dr. Bezozo says. “If you’re looking to lie poolside or enjoy your favorite outdoor activity, consider doing so in a shaded area, such as under an umbrella or tree.”

Conduct self-skin exams and enroll in an early detection and screening programs. “When it comes to skin cancer and melanoma, getting regular screenings, monitoring your skin over time and early detection are the best defenses to avoiding and fighting the deadly disease,” he says. Once a month, check all areas of your skin for anything that looks new or different. Use the ABCDE rule: asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolution. “If you find one or more of these signs, or find a suspicious mole or lesion, visit your physician.” Also, Dr. Bezozo suggests enrolling in an early detection and surveillance program. “Look for comprehensive programs that incorporate the most advanced melanoma detecting technologies, including digital dermoscopy, sequential monitoring, and total body photography, in order to have peace of mind and to ensure that you are receiving the most highly effective care available.”

We at MoleSafe know that these tips should not be surprises to our readers, but we always feel that they are important reminders. Remember, you can be in control of your skin protection.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Consistent Sunscreen Use During Childhood Essential To Preventing Melanoma

June 27th, 2014

This week, Nature World News reported on a study which found that consistent use of sunscreen as a child prevented melanoma later in life. As we know, melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer, with about 75,000 new cases diagnosed every year in the United States alone.

Senior author John L. VandeBerg questioned in the study whether sunscreen was effective in preventing melanoma which was caused by UV light, not merely sunburns. He said that, “It has been suggested that sunscreen enables people to receive more UV exposure without becoming sunburned, and that increased exposure to UV light has led to an increasing incidence of melanoma”. VandeBerg said that these questions remained unanswered due to the fact that there was no proper natural mammalian model of UV-induced melanoma.

Scientist at Texas Biomedical Research Institute think that they have found the solution to that problem in the gray short-tailed opossum. The team tested an over-the-counter spf 15 lotion of the opossums, and found that there was a 10-fold reduction in pre-melanotic lesions, when compared to baby opossums who did not wear the lotion. The team monitored these animals into adulthood, which is when melanoma more commonly occurs. The team concluded that:

“We speculate that the reason it is particularly important that sunscreens be used consistently in childhood, and especially in infancy, is because skin cells during growth are dividing much more rapidly than in adulthood, and it is during cell division that the cells are most susceptible to UV-induced damage”.

We at MoleSafe find this study to be another excellent reason for parents to be overzealous when it comes to sunscreen. Protecting your children now, will only help them later in life.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Sunscreen Alone Won’t Protect You From Melanoma

June 12th, 2014

This week, Bloomberg reported on a new study which proved that sunscreen alone cannot protect you from melanoma. The study also proved that sunscreen is providing protection, but unfortunately, it cannot completely protect.

The study, conducted by Richard Marais and his team from the Cancer Research U.K. Manchester Institute, found that while sunscreen does help against most sun-related damage, it cannot protect against all of the radiation which can cause melanoma. The study also clarified exactly how UV rays damage DNA.

UV radiation attacks a gene called TP53. This gene is responsible for helping DNA heal, and would normally prevent tumor progression. Of course, if the gene is damaged, it makes cancer such as melanoma much easier to grow. “The TP53 gene, which wasn’t thought to be important in inhibiting melanoma before, coordinates with other DNA mutations that are estimated to cause almost half of deadly incidences of the skin cancer…”, the article stated.

So, as we already know, there are many ways for us to protect ourselves from the sun. We must still remember to use sunscreen, as the article points out, and we must make sure we are re-applying it every two hours, or anytime after we are in the water. We must also try to avoid being out during the peak hours of the sun, from 10AM- 2PM. Protective clothing can also be a big help. A rash-guard is a great tool for those who wish to be covered while swimming. Shade is also our friend. Umbrellas, trees, and awnings can all provide relief from the hot sun.

We at MoleSafe find this study to be very important. It reminds us all that we must use many methods to protect us from melanoma and other skin cancers. The more methods we combine, the safer we will be.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Sunburns Early In Life Linked To Melanoma

June 4th, 2014

This week, Fox News reported on a study which found that severe sunburns which occurred during childhood were linked to melanoma. Researchers found that women who had experienced five or more severe sunburns before  the age of 20 were 80% more likely to contract melanoma. “Severe sunburns” were characterized by blistering skin.

In the 20-year study, the researchers looked at 109,000 Caucasian women ages 25 to 42 who resided in 14 different U.S. states, to examine the role of a number of risk factors, including chronic sun exposure in adulthood and sun exposure in early life, in developing the three major types of skin cancer. The study participants regularly provided information about their health and skin cancer risk factors, including the number of moles on their legs, the number of blistering sunburns they had experienced and their use of tanning beds.

Due to the fact that not every patient may accurately remember all of their sun exposure incidents, the research team estimated each patient’s overall exposure to UV rays. This was based on the latitude coordinates of where the patients lived. At the end of the study, 7,000 of the women had developed basal cell carcinoma, 900 had developed squamous cell carcinoma, and around 800 of the women developed melanoma.

In the results, it was shown that the women who were estimated to have the highest UV exposure during their adult lives had a more than two-fold increase in their risk of developing basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. There was however no correlation with UV exposure as an adult and melanoma. Melanoma was found to be closely related to sun exposure during childhood. “Regardless of where they lived, the participants who had at least five blistering sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 had an 80 percent increase in their risk for melanoma, as well as a 68 percent increase in the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma,” the study said.

We at MoleSafe think that this is a very important study which should be noted by all parents. If parents make sure to protect their children from the sun, they can be doing them a great service later in life.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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Could A New Sunscreen Prevent Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer?

May 21st, 2014

This week, ABC13 reported on a new sunscreen which claims to prevent non-melanoma skin cancer. The sunscreen, created by Elizabeth Arden Rx, has a “triple protection factor 50″, or TPF 50.

TPF 50 works by preventing the change in DNA which causes basal cells and squamous cells. These two cancers are one of the most common in the United States, with over a million cases diagnosed each year. Clinical studies have also shown that TPF50 can prevent skin aging due to UVA and UVB rays at the cellular level. Doctor David McDaniel, of the Laser and Cosmetic Center in Virginia Beach, explains,  “So, it’s blocking the burning rays. It’s blocking the ultra-violet aging rays and it’s helping protect your DNA from the damage that leads to everything from lost collagen/elastic fibers to non-melanoma skin cancer”.

Elizabeth Arden Rx claims that the sunscreen is a 3-in-1 product. It protects against the sun, it provides antioxidant protection, and it provides DNA protection. Dr. McDaniel says that this product is a new breakthrough in sun protection, and for those worried about the white look often associated with high SPF sunscreens, this product has a light tint.

Currently, the product retails for $56 a bottle, and can only be found at a doctor’s office. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends it for daily use.

We at MoleSafe are curious to see if other companies will be trying to create their own TPF 50 sunscreens, and if the product will become more readily available.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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May 16th, 2014

This week, Tech Times did a two part interview with our very own Dr. Bezozo. The interview centered on how technology was integral for dermoscopy, and how advancements in technology can only further help us to detect melanoma. For your convenience, we have placed the interview below.

Tech Times: Can you please explain the history of MoleSafe?

Dr. Bezozo: MoleSafe is part of a worldwide network of more than 40 melanoma centers. Developed by MoleMap in New Zealand and Australia, the countries with the highest incidences of melanoma, MoleSafe was brought to the U.S. in 2008. Richard Bezozo, M.D., pioneered bringing the technology to the U.S. and has served as an influential force behind the expansion of MoleSafe facilities, by establishing centers of melanoma excellence at hospitals across the country that utilize the MoleSafe program for early detection and improve patient outcomes.

MoleSafe/MoleMap continues to serve as a global leader in development and provision of unique, proven, integrated imaging and teledermatology health solutions for early and accurate detection of skin cancer. Today, thousands of melanomas and other skin cancers have been diagnosed from more than 150,000 telemedicine consultations.

Tech Times: How does MoleSafe work? What does the program entail to make it the world’s most advanced melanoma screening and surveillance program?

Dr. Bezozo: MoleSafe is the world’s most advanced melanoma screening and surveillance program because it combines all of the current proven processes into one single program that have proven to be highly successful. The innovative program incorporates a suite advanced melanoma detection and diagnosis tools and technology, including total body photography, digital dermoscopy, and digital serial monitoring. This program is easily integrated into physicians’ practices to enhance the quality of care and patient satisfaction, drives patient retention, and strengthens patient relationships.

Tech Times: Can you please describe the main components of MoleSafe’s program (total-body photography, digital dermoscopy and digital serial monitoring)?

Dr. Bezozo: The unique part about MoleSafe is that it’s comprehensive and all-inclusive. All of the tools and technology combined together is what makes MoleSafe the most advanced program available to patients. It connects the most advanced technology tools with a panel of highly trained dermatologists and dermoscopists and the practice of dermatology to detect melanoma at the earliest possible stages, and it significantly reduces the number of unnecessary biopsies.

The MoleSafe procedure represents a new standard of care and is part of a lifelong program for the early detection of melanoma. Its key elements include:

  • Risk Assessment: Using its database, MoleSafe has developed a risk assessment model that can help identify patients who may be at higher risk of melanoma
  • Total-Body Photography: Roughly 50 percent of all melanomas first appear on unmarked skin. The use of total-body photography creates a baseline of the patient’s skin and therefore helps the MoleSafe specialists to identify both new and changing lesions that might indicate melanoma skin cancer.
  • Serial Digital Dermoscopy: The universal truth about melanoma is change. Serial monitoring of moles is therefore a useful tool for helping identify melanomas that could potentially be overlooked during a routine point-in-time skin examination. Individual moles are imaged using dermoscopy, a technique that combines high magnification and high light intensity, allowing doctors to see below the skin surface, providing them with more information than the naked eye to determine if skin lesions are benign or malignant. Moles are tagged to their location on the body for subsequent diagnosis, identification and comparison over time.
  • Diagnosis and Management: The patient’s complete skin record, including digital images and clinical information, is sent via a secure tele-dermatology network to MoleSafe’s panel of world-class melanoma dermatologists (dermoscopists) for analysis and reporting. Patients and their designated doctors receive their reports and their digital melanogram.
  • Education and Follow-up: The melanographer, a trained nurse, educates patients about the risks of sun exposure, and helps generate a continuing partnership between MoleSafe, the patient, and his/her doctor.

TechTimes: How has the advancement of technology helped the practice of dermatology to evolve and improve?

Dr. Bezozo: Technology has enabled us to detect melanoma at its earliest stage, drastically increasing survival rates. We’ve taken all of the current best practices based upon digital photography and digital dermoscopy to provide dermatologists with the most advanced and comprehensive melanoma detection and surveillance system available worldwide.

What do YOU think? Let us know below!

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