10 Issues to Consider During National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

“Accounting for approximately half of all cancers in the United States, skin cancer is widely recognized as the most common cause of cancer nationwide. More than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, and according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, incidences of skin cancer outnumber all combined cases of breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.

“With the month of May designated as National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, HemOnc Today highlights 10 issues for oncologists and dermatologists to consider for their patients, as well as the new guideline revisions and research regarding the identification, treatment and management of patients with melanoma and skin cancer.”


Viagra Use Linked With Increased Risk for Melanoma

“Men who used the phosphodiesterase (PDE) 5A inhibitor sildenafil (Viagra) had an 84% increased risk for developing melanoma even after adjusting for known risk factors, according to the results of a prospective study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine.

“ ‘Our study cannot prove cause and effect. A longer follow-up and more detailed assessment of the dose and frequency of sildenafil use at multiple times in the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study would be necessary for future studies,’ wrote researchers, led by Wen-Qing Li, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. ‘Our results should be interpreted cautiously and are insufficient to alter current clinical recommendations.’ “

Editor’s note: As stated above, this study does NOT show that using viagra increases risk of melanoma. The scientists merely found a connection between the two. It may be that there is an underlying factor responsible for the link. However, physicians may choose to perform basic skin checks for patients who are prescribed Viagra.


Doubts Incite Conflict over Prostate Cancer Vaccine Provenge

Results of a clinical trial that evaluated the prostate cancer vaccine Provenge have come under scrutiny. Questions arise regarding the reported 4-month survival benefit that ultimately led to FDA approval. Disputers suggest that a flaw in methods led to the survival benefit, but that the vaccine may actually cause harm.


Study Finds Surgery for Early Prostate Cancer Unecessary

A recent study evaluated the usefulness of surgery versus observation to treat localized prostate cancer. In the study, 731 men were followed for 10 years. Those treated with surgery did not have a significant decreased risk of death compared to those who were observed for advancing cancer.

Primary source: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1113162?query=featured_home


Yearly Prostate Cancer Screening May Decrease Quality of Life

A recent study weighed the benefits of yearly prostate cancer screening, finding that the potential disadvantages decrease the potential advantages by 23%. Harmful results of yearly prostate screening include negative prostate biopsies, radical prostatectomy, and radiation therapy.


Prostate Cancer Gene May Determine Tumor Growth, Return

A recent study found a relationship between the SPARCL1 gene and prostate cancer recurrence. Individuals who had lower activity of the gene had a higher risk of prostate cancer recurrence over 10 years. A test to detect SPARCL1 is being designed.

Primary source: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/37/14977.full.pdf+html


NEJM Poll Reveals Lack of Consensus Among Clinicians over PSA Screening

The utility of (prostate-specific antigen) PSA screening to inform prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment has been a topic of heated debate. The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) conducted a poll that indicates a lack of consensus among clinicians regarding best prostate cancer screening practices. Many clinicians feel patients should make informed decisions regarding testing preferences.


FDA Approves New Drug for the Treatment of Advanced Prostate Cancer

The FDA has approved enzalutamide (sold as Xtandi) 3 months ahead of deadline. The drug improved survival by nearly 5 months in men with advanced prostate cancer. It is approved for individuals who have not responded to chemotherapy. However, manufacturers hope to expand approval to include patients not previously treated with chemotherapy.


Radiation Therapy in Combination with Hormonal Therapy Improves Overall Survival in Locally Advanced Prostate Cancer

A recent study evaluated androgen deprivation therapy with and without radiation therapy in individuals with locally advanced prostate cancer. Individuals who received combination treatment had a better overall survival rate. Bowel-related side effects were similar for both groups 24 months after treatment.