Friday, April 18, 2008

ScienceDaily is a great site for Melanoma Information!

I just found this site and thought I'd share one of the articles I saw listed. They have many interesting articles and information on new and break through research. Check it out! Dana Farber is one of the best cancer research institutes around!

First Targeted Therapy To Produce Remission Of Metastatic Melanoma
ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2008) — In a demonstration that even some of the most hard-to-treat tumors may one day succumb to therapies aimed at molecular "weak points," researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report the first instance in which metastatic melanoma has been driven into remission by a targeted therapy.

The report, published in the April 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, describes the case of a 79-year-old woman with melanoma tumors in several parts of her abdomen. When lab tests showed the tumor cells carried an abnormality in a gene called KIT, the patient enrolled in a clinical trial involving Gleevec (R) (Imatinib), a drug known to target that gene.

Four weeks after beginning therapy, imaging exams showed a dramatic reduction in tumor size and metabolism: two of the tumor masses had disappeared and several others had shrunken considerably. Four months later, the tumors were still in check, and today, nine months after the start of therapy, she continues to take the drug and her condition remains stable.

"This is the first proof of principle that we can find an Achilles' heel in melanoma" -- a gene critical to tumor cell growth and proliferation -- "and, by targeting that gene with a drug, cause the cell to die," says the study's lead author, Stephen Hodi, MD, of Dana-Farber. "It is especially exciting because there haven't been any effective treatments for melanoma patients with metastatic disease."

Although the report involves just one patient, it should inject new confidence in the fight against melanoma, Hodi says. Because previous research has failed to find any genetic Achilles' heels capable of shutting down melanoma cell growth, some researchers had speculated that none may exist for such cells. The discovery of one suggests there may be others.

KIT mutations are found in only a small percentage of melanomas, so Imatinib does not represent a universal treatment for the disease, Hodi explains. Recent studies have found KIT mutations in 11 percent of acral melanomas (which arise in skin without hair follicles, such as that of the palms, foot soles, and nail beds, and account for 5 percent of all melanomas), 21 percent of mucosal melanomas (which arise in the mucous membranes of some organs), and 17 percent of melanomas arising in chronically sun-damaged skin. For patients with these conditions, particularly those who carry a mutation in a particular section of the gene, Imatinib may well prove beneficial.

Imatinib's effectiveness against tumors with KIT mutations was first demonstrated in gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), a relatively rare malignancy of the digestive tract. An estimated 75-80 percent of GISTs have KIT mutations, and Imatinib has caused such tumors to stabilize or retreat in 75-90 percent of patients receiving it. In most of these patients, however, tumors eventually begin growing again as they become resistant to the drug.

The KIT mutation in the patient described in the study involved a protein-coding section of the gene where DNA was duplicated. This section, known as the "juxtamembrane domain," is the most frequent site of mutation in GIST, and is associated with a strong tumor response to Imatinib.

"Dramatic remissions in metastatic melanoma are something that, as physicians, we've rarely seen," Hodi remarks. "Confirming these results will require enrolling additional patients in clinical trials -- something we're actively working to accomplish."

The senior author of the study is David E. Fisher, MD, PhD, who participated in the research as a Dana-Farber faculty member and is now at Massachusetts General Hospital. Other co-authors include Philip Friedlander, MD, PhD, Annick D. Van den Abbeele, MD, George Demetri, MD, Suzanne Mac Rae, MPH, Andrea Kruse, and Jyothi Jagannathan, MD, of Dana-Farber; Christopher Corless, MD, PhD, and Michael Heinrich, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University; and Elsa Velazquez, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Funding for the research was provided in part by the Ron Gelb Melanoma Research Fund at Dana-Farber.

Adapted from materials provided by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (2008, April 17). First Targeted Therapy To Produce Remission Of Metastatic Melanoma. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2008, from /releases/2008/04/080417211534.htm

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Melanoma and Politics

I found this article very interesting and felt I needed to share it....

John McCain’s Melanoma in Perspective
Bill Jempty | Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for President, and I have a similar medical history. In a recent NY Times article, Lawrence K. Altman, M.D reported, “Mr. McCain has had four (malignant) melanomas.”

Until 2007 I was tied with the Senator. I had four of these deadly skin cancers diagnosed in 1993-94. A fifth was located on me and biopsied in 2007.

Around 150,000 a year world-wide are diagnosed with melanoma. A little under 50,000 die of the disease every year. It is the most common cancer for women under the age of 30, second most common for women age 34 and under.

Multiple melanoma survivors aren’t that common. I’ve been an active participant in MM support groups for 12 years. I can count the people I know who have had more than one of these skin cancers diagnosed. Senator McCain is the only one I know to have a total equal to mine.

In 1993, he waited more than six months before seeking care after a Navy doctor recommended that he consult a dermatologist for a lesion on his left shoulder that turned out to be his first melanoma. It was excised and has not recurred.

Pathology tests showed that the two other melanomas — detected on his upper left arm in 2000 and on his nose in 2002 — were of the least dangerous kind, in situ. In that type the malignant cells are confined to the outer layer of skin.

The most serious melanoma was spotted on his temple in 2000 by the attending physician at the United States Capitol after it had escaped the eye of Mr. McCain’s personal physician at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale. (The Capitol physician also spotted another melanoma that was in situ.)
The melanoma on Mr. McCain’s left temple was 2 centimeters in diameter and 0.22 centimeters deep, and was fully excised with wide margins, 2 centimeters in each direction, his campaign staff said.

Two of the melanomas were in situ, which are very superficial and almost never a threat after their removal. (Wikipedia says 100% survival rate. I wouldn’t go out on that limb)

Dr. Altman’s article is most concerned with the 2000 melanoma. At 0.22 depth, it is a Clark Level II. Clark Levels are used for the degree of invasion of the MM into the patient’s skin. So far as Clarks go, .22 only penetrates into the second layer of skin. Of my five melanoma, three were .26 or less. What are the survival rates for this type of melanoma?

For patients with a melanoma like Mr. McCain’s who remained free of the disease for the first five years after diagnosis, the probability of recurrence during the next five years was 14 percent and death 9 percent, a study published in 1992 found.

The melanoma is almost eight years old. In 2000 Sen. McCain had surgery to have lymph nodes removed(This resulted in noticeable puffiness and scarring on his face still seen today), they tested negative.

Any oncologist will tell you, that a MM patient is never totally free or safe from having the disease come back. The statistics in the Senator’s case are strongly in his favor.

A member of Congress, New Mexico Rep. Steven Schiff, died of melanoma in 1998.

Since the above article came from the NY Times, some have considered this another ‘hit piece’ on the Senator. Ed Morissey:

Altman then launches into an indirect criticism of McCain for not releasing his medical records yet in this campaign. He released those records early in his previous campaign, but as Altman notes, that was because they were part of a public study on the health of former POWs. Altman fails to mention that no other candidate in this race has released medical records.

The criticism isn’t indirect. The article ends saying- “Mr. McCain is occasionally asked on the campaign trail about his age. But he is almost never asked about his health.”

Professor Bainbridge writes,

The Times has taken the gloves off and is digging deep for mud to sling. Ironically, of course, McCain bashing by the Times at this point redounds to the Senator’s benefit. Lots of conservatives worried that McCain was too cozy with the liberal media. The Times is solving that problem for McCain. The people in the base who need to come around loathe the Times for its pretensions and biases. It’s the old “enemy of my enemy” story.

Even so, it’s damn shoddy journalism.

I’ve known about Sen. McCain’s melanoma history, it isn’t common knowledge to the American public. I can recall next to no mention of it in this Presidential cycle. The Times article may have been overdue. Bringing the facts out to the public about a possible future President’s health and cancer history doesn’t seem like a hit piece to me but in depth reporting instead

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Thank you for reading my Blog!

Each day that I cannot find time to find something else to add to my Blog about Melanoma, I feel such guilt! I see the number of people visiting my site daily and I appreciate each and every one of you for trying to learn what you can to help stop this very PREVENTABLE disease.

We all have our daily struggles, yet there are some arenas which we need to keep the "good fight" going. Melanoma is one of those arenas. There are many diseases which when they strike we have a limited amount of power over to help prevent or cure. Melanoma, which is the most aggressive and deadliest of all skin cancers, does not fall among that group. It is a very preventable disease. However it must be caught early enough, and if proper precautions are taken at appropriate times, it will never become a threat.

The proper use of protection against sun rays, and UV rays from tanning booths is KEY! Sun lotion MUST be used daily, and tanning beds ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND!

Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF factor of at least 15 daily, even in the winter. Check your moles for the A,B,C,D and E's. Buy a really "chic" wide brimmed hat and wear it proudly! Then as Mr. Spock, from the Star Trek series says; you will "Live long and prosper". This is my wish you, to be able to live long and fight Melanoma while you do so! :) Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Melanoma: Gene Signature Spells Poor Outcome

Sorry I have not been more vigilant in my postings,I have too many projects including school in the wings. I promise to pay more attention to fighting Melanomas! One would think by now science would have an answer to all our questions and problems regarding Melanomas, but alas they do not. Please refer to this recently published article regarding melanomas. Don't forget to use the sunscreen lotion ans wear your wide brimmed hate s proudly! Check out this article: Melanoma Gene Signature Spells Poor Outcome.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Melanoma Diagnosis Often Delayed for Rural Poor

Do not let your economic status affect your care for
Melanoma treatment. Please refer to this article for more information,

"Stay out of the sun, and put the protectives on."

Another recent article on skin cancer, click here to link:

Friday, August 17, 2007

I have joined the SunSavvy Geek Club!

Where is Danielle when you need her? I too have now gone over the edge and joined the SunSavvy Geek Club!

Two of my sisters from Chicago and three nieces came to visit. They have not been here for a few years and have a very nice RV. They stayed at a camp resort in Falmouth, Ma. not too far from my home. The camp resort had a couple of nice pools and a pond. Another sister who lives locally with 2 of her children and I planned to visit them at the campsite. We had planned to visit with them and stay for a cookout. (a cookout is the East Coast word for Bar-Ba-Que)

I spent the early afternoon watching them all swim and play in the pool, and after a few moments I realized...I did not see either of my sister 's apply ANY lotion to any of the kids! Five children under the age of 16 (my three nieces from out of state and two others from here) were jumping in an out of the pool and NONE had any sunscreen.

My first response was "Do you want to end up with cancer like your Uncle Kevin?". They looked at me like I had two heads. "Where is the sunscreen?". At this point I really didn't care if it was one of the best protecting or not, as something was better than nothing. I got there about 3 pm and had them apply sunscreen, however they had been in the pool for some time before I arrived. Clearly sun protection was not forefront on their minds. Later at dinner I explained how important it is to protect the skin you are in. I thought I had made my point.

Clearly I today we went to a beach, again around 3 pm, and again all 5 children are out running on the beach, looking for shells, and NO ONE had applied sunscreen. One of my sisters from Chicago; the mother of the three girls is very fair, burns like crazy and has a thousand moles, PLUS she is blue eyed! I ask her ..."do you use sun lotion on a regular basis?" Her response was .."sometimes". SOMETIMES!!!! I then went on a SunSavvy tirade!

What will it take to change a culture to realize the sun is the enemy of our largest organ..... our skin!!! I did not know when I was growing up the dangers of over exposure to the sun. I knew the dangers of smoking cigarettes, but the sun was my friend at that time. We know better now, the sun is the "smoking gun" cigarettes used to be in the 70's. We know better now, but how do we change the culture! Tans and sunning bred fertile feeding grounds for Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer!

We need to help young people realize that NOT tanning is "IN". Not tanning will keep your good looks and have less wrinkles longer into life. We need to find a way to encourage these actions! Maybe we need to start a campaign...."Invest in your future, spend more now on sunscreen, less for plastic surgery in the future". Pale is in, tanning it out. What ever the answer is we need to stop letting young people succumb to this deadly disease so easily and without a fight. Fight back now, use sunscreen and protect the skin you are in!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

ABC's NewsWatch 20/20 SPF Myths

This is a very informative video which discusses the truths and myths associated with SPF, sun protection factors, which sunscreens offer the best protection and why. It is definitely worth checking out. Click here to watch video.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

If you were told you had Melanoma would you know where to begin?

If you were told today you had Melanoma would you know what to do next, where to go, what doctors to see or how to get a second opinion? I have made many posts sharing some stories, or providing protection tips. I would now like to help point you in the right direction to obtain the best team of doctors you can to fight this deadly disease. Yes, it takes a team, and you are part of the team when you become diagnosed with Melanoma. The best teams include a surgeon, a medical oncologist, a dermatologist, a plastic surgeon and a radiation oncologist and you, the educated patient. In early stages you may only need the first three I have listed (plus yourself of course! ). The more advanced the stage of Melanoma, the bigger the team usually gets.

All team members help make the best decisions for the treatment, and a well armed team member is an educated team member. When my husband was told he had melanoma he turned to me and asked.."what next". Being a registered nurse I knew where we needed to go and how to get the information. If you are comfortable with you doctor you may not need or want a second opinion, but that is always a first option.

The next step is generally to find a good cancer center. The benefit of a cancer center is they frequently have several specialists who work as a "team". If you do not know of a cancer center you can call The Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER. They can direct you to a nearby cancer center.

Another option is to contact a nearby hospital, preferably a medical school and ask for a list of names of specialists.

After being provided with names, go to the Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists. This directory lists the doctors names, along with their speciality and educational background. Board certified doctors have more training and education in their speciality and have passed an examination given by their speciality board. You can locate this directory in most public libraries. The American Board of Medical Specialities (ABMS) also offers information via the telephone an Internet. The toll free number is 1-866-ASK-ABMS. Their Internet address is:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Facing skin cancer Salisbury student warns others to protect against dangerous UV rays

Many teens think they are invulnerable to all harm. It is a common misconception which has existed through the ages. . I thought the same when I was a teen. "That will never happen to me because...." That was how I thought and I can be fairly certain it is how most teens still think. What follows the words "because" varies; "because I'm careful", because I'm smarter", "because I've practiced", "because I'm different", because I'm special". Well the truth be known, you are no different than any one else and that is exactly what leaves you so vulnerable to Melanoma. Melanoma strikes anyone, of any age, creed, color and teenagers too. Yes teenagers with Melanoma is also on the rise. Pressures to always look good; image is so important to teens, sending many to tanning salons. Even if they do not go to tanning salons, many teens remain outdoors for long periods of time and do not follow proper skin protection. They tend to bare as much as possible without taking proper precautions, applying and reapplying a good sun lotion.

How do you think Dana Lowe, age 15 felt when she found out she had Melanoma; the deadliest form of skin cancer? An advid softball player spending many hours out doors practicing, and I'll wager she did not regularly apply sun lotion prior to all practices and games. Read her story, and find out how she has adjusted her lifestyle to stay safe, yet continue doing what she loves to do. Click here:
(Pictured above is Dana and her mother Donna Lowe)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Share Your Survival Story-Help Fight Skin Cancer!

I have previously referred to an article written by Danielle M. White, co-founder of The Cancer Crusaders Organization. She is also the author of the book ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources. This ambitious 28 year old women is now working on her second book, looking for stories to be included in a special edition of her book to be released next year. Danielle also has a very informative blog which you can check out. I have added her blog to "My Favorite Blogs" listing. Visit her blog site!

If you have a story you would like to share please read this press release for the details.

Only Skin Deep? Cancer Crusaders Seeking Stories of Hope, Survival and Inspiration
Melanoma survivors and their families are encouraged to share their stories for new book on skin cancer prevention education.
Provo, Utah (PRWEB) August 10, 2007 -- As temperatures continue to rise, so does the incidence of melanoma--across the globe. In fact, another American is succumbs to melanoma every hour according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Yet, The Cancer Crusaders Organization wants to reassure people that there is hope. Hence, the organization is asking melanoma survivors and their families to share their stories for a new book on skin cancer prevention education.
"Skin cancer incidence in the U.S., and across the globe, continues to rise at an alarming rate," says Danielle M. White, co-founder of The Cancer Crusaders Organization. "In fact, melanoma is killing more women ages 20-39 than any other cancer. Yet, this disease is very preventable! Prevention brings message of hope, and we want to emphasize to people, especially young adults, that while melanoma is a serious [disease] that is one the rise, it is extremely preventable--if we are proactive," White says.
The 28-year-old White, who is also the author of the book ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources says that her award-winning organization is collecting stories from melanoma survivors and family members touched by melanoma to include in a special edition of her book is set to release sometime next year.
"We want to include a section in the book that features a variety of stories from individuals touched by melanoma in this next edition," White says. "In doing this, we hope to put face to this often misunderstood disease, and inspire people to be more proactive about prevention [and] to pay tribute to melanoma warriors and their legacy."

For the complete story follow this link:

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Did You Check Your Toes Today?

Who would have ever thought to check ones feet for evidence of skin cancer? But it seems it is very true. This simple but important health tip could save your life! Read the entire article I have copied below:
Feet are an important way to find skin cancer early
Miscellaneous News
Published: Wednesday, 8-Aug-2007

The next time you clip your toenails, take a closer look at the rest of your feet. An extra 60 seconds could save your life.
Foot and ankle surgeons say routine self examinations of the feet are an important way to find skin cancer early, when it's easiest to cure. Half of the people who learn they have melanoma of the foot die within five years because the cancer had already spread throughout their body by the time it was diagnosed.
Nearly 60,000 people will learn they have melanoma this year. It's not known how many of those cases will involve the foot, but more than 8,100 melanoma patients will die? nearly one death every hour. If melanoma is detected in its earliest stages, 92 percent of patients are alive after five years.
Unlike many other types of cancer, melanoma strikes people of all age groups, even the young. Whites are 10 times more likely to develop melanoma than blacks. But studies suggest more than half of melanoma cases in blacks involve the foot, where late diagnosis leads to a higher death rate. Routine foot self exams increase the likelihood of noticing suspicious moles, freckles or other spots.
"The first question I'm going to ask a patient is, "How long has it been there?'" says Neil Campbell, DPM, FACFAS, a spokesman for the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).
Foot and ankle surgeons recommend focusing on the three most common areas for foot melanoma: the soles, between the toes, and around or under the toenails. Campbell notes melanoma can develop anywhere on the body including areas that receive little sun exposure, such as the feet and ankles. If a mole, freckle or spot starts to change over the course of a month and becomes asymmetrical or changes its border, color, diameter or elevation, see a doctor immediately. Those are the ABCDEs, or signs, of melanoma.
For more information on malignant melanoma of the foot, or to find a local foot and ankle surgeon, visit the ACFAS consumer Web site,
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) is a professional society of more than 6,000 foot and ankle surgeons. Founded in 1942, the College's mission is to promote research and provide continuing education for the foot and ankle surgical specialty, and to educate the general public on foot health and conditions of the foot and ankle through its consumer website,

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Caffeine Lotion? Can it also Protect against Skin Cancers?

This is another article I found suggesting a caffeine lotion can also be helpful in protection from skin cancer. It is not as recent (2002) as previous caffeine studies which I have included in my blog, but it certainly appears valid and potentially promising. It is not suggesting using caffeine lotions instead of sun lotion, as it does not offer protect against the sun. Instead it offers protection after sun exposure by blocking the actions which lead cells to become abnormal. For the entire article which appeared in "HealthWatch" follow this link:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Can Drinking Coffe Really Fight Skin Cancers?

This article appeared in the U.S. News & World Report July 30, 2007. It suggests a cup of coffee or two; combined with exercise can
increase the destruction of precancerous cells which have been damaged by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation. This is according to a team of researchers at Rutgers University. so far this has only been proven with mice, yet they feel strongly the human testing will result with similar findings. The testing involved 4 groups of mice, some received only caffeine, some only increased exercise, some received both exercise and caffeine, and the control group received neither. The results were amazingly high for the group receiving both caffeine and exercise. For the complete article follow the link: