Targeted Intervention Decreased Melanoma Risk, Increased Early Prevention

“A targeted screening and education strategy aimed at patients at high risk for melanoma favorably affected behaviors that may reduce melanoma risk compared with a standard information-based campaign, according to the results of a recent study published in Annals of Family Medicine.

“General practitioner counseling, combined with a skin examination and a self-assessment tool resulted in patients retaining information about melanoma risk factors and reducing high-risk behaviors.”


Why Today’s Reports About Skin Cancer and Alcohol are Misleading

“Let’s be clear – drinking alcohol carries health risks.

“It causes seven different types of cancer. And the more we cut down on alcohol, the more we reduce our risk of the disease.

“But while we’d certainly like people to be more aware of the link between alcohol and cancer, we also believe in good quality evidence. And that’s why today’s newspaper headlines linking drinking and the most serious form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, bothered us.

“Because the evidence simply isn’t strong enough to link the two.”


Drinking Linked to Skin Cancer

Just one drink a day could raise the risk of skin cancer by 20%, says new research that combined 16 existing studies which together included thousands of people. The researchers also found that drinking the equivalent of a few strong beers increased the risk of melanoma as much as 55%. What’s the link between alcohol and skin cancer? The type of alcohol in drinks is ethanol, which our bodies soon metabolize into another compound called acetaldehyde — and this compound may make skin more sensitive to the UV light that can cause skin cancer. That said, the researchers acknowledge that it may simply be that drinkers are more likely to bask in the sun longer without protection. However, they also remind us that alcohol is now linked to seven kinds of cancer, and say that cutting down on drinking could also cut the risk of cancer.


Moles Linked to Risk of Inherited Melanoma

Melanoma can run in families, and a new study suggests that the likelihood of developing familial melanoma could be predicted based on moles during childhood. The researchers followed 133 children in families with inherited melanoma and found that children who had more moles overall, as well as more atypical moles on the lower body, were at higher risk of melanoma. In addition, the researchers confirmed that those who developed melanomas were more likely to have the inherited mutation. Knowing which children are at risk of familial melanoma could help doctors catch it early.


Prostate Cancer Linked to Risk of Melanoma

Cancer survivors account for nearly one-fifth of new cancer diagnoses, and a new study suggests that melanoma may be more common in men who have had prostate cancer. The researchers followed cancer in about 42,000 white men from 1982 to 1998. About 5,100 of the men developed prostate cancer and 539 developed melanomas—and those in the former group were more likely to be in the latter group, too. Doctors caution this does not necessarily mean that prostate cancer increases the risk of melanoma. However, the researchers point out that the odds of developing melanoma were not higher in men who had survived cancers other than of the prostate.


Prostate Cancer Linked to Risk of Melanoma

Cancer survivors account for nearly one-fifth of new cancer diagnoses, and a new study suggests that melanoma may be more common in men who have had prostate cancer. The researchers followed cancer in about 42,000 white men from 1982 to 1998. About 5,100 of the men developed prostate cancer and 539 developed melanomas—and those in the former group were more likely to be in the latter group, too. Doctors caution this does not necessarily mean that prostate cancer increases the risk of melanoma. However, the researchers point out that the odds of developing melanoma were not higher in men who had survived cancers other than of the prostate.


Reducing the Risk of Melanoma in Young Men

Young men are 55% more likely to die of melanoma than young women, according to a recent study that followed more than 25,000 white adolescents and young adults with melanoma. About 95% of skin melanomas occur in non-Hispanic whites. The disparity between the sexes held across melanomas matched for thickness, suggesting a biological basis. But even so, young men can reduce their risk with sun protection and skin checks. Another large study suggested that using sunscreen regularly could cut the incidence of melanoma by half. In addition, men are less likely to get skin checks and young adults are less likely to go to doctors, period. Dermatologists recommend professional skin exams for people with changing moles or ‘ugly duckling’ moles, which don’t match the others. Ugly duckling moles tend to grow up, can be small and uniform in color, and may bleed.


MC1R and cAMP Signaling Inhibit cdc25B Activity and Delay Cell Cycle Progression in Melanoma Cells

“The melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) mediates the tanning response through induction of cAMP and downstream pigmentary enzymes. Diminished function alleles of MC1R are associated with decreased tanning and increased melanoma risk, which has been attributed to increased rates of mutation. We have found that MC1R or cAMP signaling also directly decreases proliferation in melanoma cell lines. MC1R overexpression, treatment with the MC1R ligand, or treatment with small-molecule activators of cAMP signaling causes delayed progression from G2 into mitosis. This delay is caused by phosphorylation and inhibition of cdc25B, a cyclin dependent kinase 1-activating phosphatase, and is rescued by expression of a cdc25B mutant that cannot be phosphorylated at the serine 323 residue. These results show that MC1R and cAMP signaling can directly inhibit melanoma growth through regulation of the G2/M checkpoint.”


Melanomas Often Come Back Even, After 10 Years

People who are melanoma-free a decade after diagnosis are generally thought to be ‘cured’—but a new study shows this isn’t necessarily true. The researchers followed 4,731 people after diagnosis with melanoma and found that this cancer recurred in about 7% of them at 15 years and in 11% at 20 years. Compared to people with recurrences in the first 3 years, those with late recurrences were 40% more likely to survive. In addition, their initial melanomas were thinner, less likely to be on the head or neck, had not spread to the lymph nodes, and occurred when they were younger (averaging age 41 years vs 51 years for those with early recurrences). The researchers recommend that people who have had melanoma get lifelong yearly skin checks by physicians even if there is no sign of this cancer.