Physicians Promote Screening Strategies for Those at High-Risk for Melanoma

“Melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, was to blame for approximately 9,700 deaths in 2014. And with the number of melanoma cases increasing each year, it is believed that the disease could become one of the most common types of cancer in the United States by 2030. Promoting and developing national screening strategies may help to reduce deaths due to melanoma. According to Vernon K. Sondak, M.D., chair of the Department of Cutaneous Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center, ‘it is time to embrace the opportunity to decrease melanoma mortality through risk-stratified education and screening.

“The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued a call to action to prevent skin cancer. However, screening for melanoma currently is not supported by U.S. Preventive Services Task Force skin cancer screening guidelines. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has expressed several concerns regarding population-wide screening for skin cancer, including uncertainty whether screening would reduce deaths, having patients undergo unnecessary tissue biopsies and the cost associated with screening individuals who have a low-risk for developing skin cancer.

“In a clinical review published in the Feb. 10 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, Moffitt physicians, Sondak and L. Frank Glass, M.D., described data from an Australian melanoma screening study that supports more extensive high-risk population-based screening programs. The Australian researchers gave extensive skin screenings every six months to 311 people who had an increased risk of developing melanoma. They detected 75 melanomas over an average follow-up period of three and a half years, but this was not associated with an excessive number of unnecessary biopsies.”

New Skin Cancer Checking Software Set to Benefit Survivors

“Skin cancer survivors are to be aided in checking for signs of the condition returning by new technology developed by experts at the University of Aberdeen.

“Initially targeted at those living in remote and rural areas, the software will educate out-patients in how to carry out self-examinations and enable them to send images of skin abnormalities directly to specialists.”

Skin Cancer Rates Five Times Higher Than in 70s

“The rates of people diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, are now five times higher than 40 years ago, according to figures announced by Cancer Research UK.

“More than 13,000 people are now developing the disease every year compared with around 1,800 in 1975.

“The latest incidence rates show around 17 people in every 100,000 are diagnosed with malignant melanoma in Great Britain every year. This is compared to just over 3 per 100,000 in the mid 70s.”

Amgen Vaccine Triggers Immune Response in Advanced Melanoma -Study

“An experimental Amgen Inc cancer vaccine used to treat advanced melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, proved effective in a late-stage study in shrinking tumors in a way that suggests the drug triggered the intended systemic immune response, according to data presented on Friday.

“The vaccine shrank tumors that were directly injected with the drug and tumors around the body that were not injected, according to the data.

“The drug, talimogene laherparepvec, also known as T-vec, is an engineered virus designed to replicate inside the injected tumor, killing cancer cells there, as well as prime the immune system to attack other cancer cells around body.”

Young Skin Cancer Survivors at Risk of Other Cancers Later

“Young people who have been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer related to sun exposure, under the age of 25, face a higher risk of developing melanoma and other cancers later in life, a study has shown. The researchers found that those who had NMSC under 25 years of age were 53 times more likely to get bone cancer, 26 times more likely to get blood cancers, 20 times more likely to get brain cancer, and 14 times more likely to get any cancer excluding those of the skin.”

Hyperspectral Camera Shows Promising Results in Detection of Skin Cancer

“A lightweight, handheld, ultra-precision hyperspectral camera has been developed for the detection of skin cancers and their precursors. From the surface of the skin, the camera recognizes early stages of cancer that are invisible to the naked eye. The hand-held, mobile hyperspectral camera images the skin region in two seconds. The large field of view (12 cm2) enables the detection of large skin areas at once. The preliminary results are promising.”

Long-Term Study Confirms Success of Method for Detecting Spread of Deadly Skin Cancer

“Research at UCLA on a technique for detecting the earliest spread of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has confirmed that the procedure significantly prolongs patients’ survival rates compared with traditional “watch and wait” techniques.

“The technique, which combines lymphatic mapping and sentinel-node biopsy, allows doctors to quickly determine whether the disease has spread, or metastasized, to the lymph nodes, which occurs in approximately 20 percent of patients. Patients with cancer in their lymph nodes may benefit from having their other nearby lymph nodes removed. For the other approximately 80 percent of patients in whom the tumors have not spread to the lymph nodes, the technique spares the patient from unnecessary surgery and its associated complications and substantial costs.”

NICE Says No to First-Line Yervoy in Advanced Melanoma

“Patients with advanced skin cancer will be disappointed with news that cost regulators are planning to bar ‘routine’ first-line access to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Yervoy (ipilimumab) on the National Health Service in England and Wales.

“The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published draft guidelines recommending that the skin cancer treatment only be used by the NHS for patients in clinical trials, because current evidence is lacking.

“The Institute has already endorsed Yervoy as a second-line treatment for advanced malignant melanoma, but says the evidence provided by B-MS fails to conclusively show the degree to which the drug can extend life in previously untreated patients when compared with current standard care.”

People of Color Need Sun Protection to Avoid Skin Cancer

“Although skin cancer is less prevalent among people of color than in whites, sun protection and other preventive measures are essential components of skin care in these populations, according to research published online Jan. 30 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.”