Super Patient: Chelsea Price Takes Charge of Stage III Melanoma

Late in 2010, Chelsea Price’s boyfriend noticed that a mole on her upper back was scabbed and weeping. “It had always been there but he thought I should get it checked,” recalls Chelsea, who was then 23 years old. By the time her dermatology appointment rolled around, however, the mole had healed. “I almost cancelled,” she says.

Good thing she didn’t. At her follow-up appointment, her dermatologist casually said, “Hey, it’s melanoma.” Thinking he was kidding, Chelsea started laughing. When she realized he was serious, she was stunned. Continue reading…

Experimental Drug Helps Body Fight Advanced Melanoma

“An experimental drug that harnesses the power of the body’s immune system to fight cancer has helped some patients with advanced melanoma keep their disease in check for several years, a new study indicates.

“Researchers think the drug, which is called nivolumab, may help reset the immune system so that as a tumor adds new cells, the immune system is able to clear them away.”

Editor’s Note: The Medical Xpress article contains a misleading statement about Yervoy (ipilimumab). The article says, “up to 49 percent of patients were still alive after one year and up to 33 percent of patients were still alive two years after taking [Yervoy].” In fact, only about 10-20% of all patients who take Yervoy experience tumor shrinkage, and 49% of those are still alive after 1 year. The response rates to nivolumab are more promising.

Scalp Melanomas May Come Back More Often

Melanomas in the scalp may be more even aggressive than those elsewhere, according to a new study. The researchers looked at the outcomes of 250 people who had scalp melanomas in stages I, II or III, and found that they came back in 74 (30%). This recurrence was in the scalp in 23 people, in the neck in 12 people, elsewhere in the body in 22 people, and in more than one place in 17 people. Cautioning that melanomas in the scalp may warrant special clinical consideration, the researchers call for identifying better ways to check for and treat these particularly high-risk skin cancers.

Risk of New Skin Melanomas Higher in People with Advanced Melanoma

New research shows that melanoma is more likely to strike twice in people with melanomas that have spread. The researchers studied 7,800 people with advanced melanoma who had not been treated with drugs, known as BRAF inhibitors, and found that new skin melanomas arose in 5% of those with stage III melanoma (229 out of 4,215) and in 1% of those with stage IV melanoma (43 out of 3,563). New skin melanomas were more common in men as well as in people who had previously had more than one skin melanoma. The researchers note that people treated with BRAF inhibitors have even higher rates of new skin melanomas, but caution that they also get more skin checks.