Most Melanomas Don’t Arise From Existing Moles, Study Shows


“As the summer draws to a close, it’s time to start putting away flip-flops, bathing suits and beach bags. But as the seasonal supplies disappear into the back of the closet, sunscreen should stay within arm’s reach for year-round protection against the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

“Because exposure to those harmful UV rays can increase one’s risk of skin cancer — and people spend a lot of time in the sun during the summer — the end of the season is also a good time to perform a skin self-exam. While it’s important to look for any suspicious spots on the skin, research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology indicates that it’s vital to check for new growths in order to detect melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.”

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Melanoma's Genetic Trajectories Are Charted in New Study

“An international team of scientists led by UC San Francisco researchers has mapped out the genetic trajectories taken by melanoma as it evolves from early skin lesions, known as precursors, to malignant skin cancer, which can be lethal when it invades other tissues in the body.

“By tracing the genetic changes that take place over time in the development of the disease, the research reaffirms the role of sun exposure in the emergence of precursor lesions, such as the common moles known as nevi, but also suggests that continued ultraviolet radiation (UV) damage to benign precursor lesions may push them on a path toward malignancy.

“More significantly, the study provides new evidence that genetic and cellular characteristics of skin lesions that are neither clearly benign moles nor malignant melanoma place them in a distinctive intermediate category, the existence of which has been hotly debated among dermatologists and pathologists.”

Decreased UV Exposure in Children May Be behind Predicted Reduction in Deaths from Melanoma

“Death from melanoma over the next several decades should stabilize and then decline in light-skinned populations, according to study results.

“This reduction in melanoma mortality — which may be more apparent in younger generations — may be linked to UV exposure patterns, researchers wrote.

“ ‘Independent from screening or treatment, over next decades, death from melanoma is likely to become an increasingly rare event,’ Philippe Autier, MD, director of the International Prevention Research Center in Lyon, France, and colleagues wrote. ‘The temporary epidemic of fatal melanoma was most probably due to excess UV exposure of children that prevailed in 1900 to 1960, and mortality decreases would be due to progressive reductions in UV exposure of children over the last decades.’ ”

Melanoma Survivors Should Take Extra Measures to Protect Their Children from Sun

“A new study has found that children whose parents are melanoma survivors are not receiving the best possible protection from the sun and ultraviolet radiation.

“This lack of protection can lead to sunburn, increasing the risk of melanoma for the children, who already face a substantially higher risk of developing the skin cancer due to their family history.

“Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer as well as one of the most common. In the US, in 2014, it was estimated that 76,100 new melanomas would be diagnosed with around 9,710 people dying from the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma rates have been rising for the past 30 years.

“The authors of the study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, state that childhood is estimated to be one of the most critical exposure periods for conferring risk.”

Melanoma Risk is Higher for Flight Crews that Work at 40,000 Feet

“Attention pilots and flight attendants: For your safety, please fasten your seat belts, note the location of the aircraft’s emergency exits — and be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen to reduce your risk of melanoma.

“When it comes to the risks of flying, skin cancer may not be the first health hazard that comes to mind. But a new study in JAMA Dermatology says that pilots are 2.22 times more likely than folks in the general population at large to be diagnosed with melanoma. For members of the cabin crew, the risk was 2.09 times greater.

“Melanoma is the sixth most common cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. Although other types of skin cancer are diagnosed more frequently, melanoma is more likely to be fatal, the American Cancer Society says. An estimated 76,100 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma this year, and about 9,710 will die from it.

“Dozens of studies have examined melanoma risk in flight crews, since working at 40,000 feet means greater exposure to cosmic rays and ultraviolet radiation. For the new study, researchers from UC San Francisco combed through data on 266,431 participants in 19 published studies to see whether the danger was real — and if so, how big it was.

“They found that for both pilots and flight attendants, the risk of developing melanoma was more than double the risk seen in people who worked on the ground. However, only pilots faced an increased risk of death from the cancer — their mortality risk was 83% greater than for those in the general population. (For those who worked in the main cabin, the risk of dying from melanoma was actually 10% lower.)”

'Feel-Good Hormones' Make Sun Exposure Addictive, Study Suggests

“When the sun is shining, many of us are unable to resist a trip to the beach to soak up the rays, despite recommendations that we should cover up to reduce the risk of skin cancer. And now, researchers have discovered why; ultraviolet radiation from the sun releases endorphins – “feel-good” hormones – that act like a drug, making exposure to sunlight addictive.”

UV Light Accelerates Melanoma Cancer Cells that Creep Along the Outside of Blood Vessels

“Based on the pioneering work of Dr. Claire Lugassy and Dr. Raymond Barnhill at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, a new study provides additional support for a process by which melanoma cells, a deadly form of skin cancer, can spread throughout the body by creeping like tiny spiders along the outside of blood vessels without ever entering the blood stream, and that this process is exacerbated by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.”

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.