Posts tagged ‘melanoma’
Sunscreen – we know it’s essential in reducing the risk of skin cancer, but we skimp on it, forget to reapply it or forgo it altogether before hitting the outdoors. That helps explains our skin cancer numbers.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million people diagnosed with basal and squamous cell skin cancer each year. Melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, accounts for more than 76,000 cases of skin cancer.
With summer just around the corner – and an increased likelihood of excessive sun exposure – now’s the perfect time to brush up on sun safety.
City of Hope surgical oncologist Vijay Trisal, M.D., who helps formulate melanoma treatment guidelines both nationally and internationally, shares some sunscreen tips to help you get the best protection against the sun. » Continue Reading
Multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma cells, is the second most common hematological malignancy in the U.S. (after non-Hodgkin lymphoma), and accounts for 1 percent of all cancers. It is generally thought to be incurable but highly treatable.
Amrita Krishnan, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Multiple Myeloma Program, says City of Hope is at the forefront of transforming the way myeloma is treated and that, as a result, more myeloma patients are able to live active, productive lives.
What is multiple myeloma and are there any symptoms?
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that normally produce antibodies to fight infection.
In myeloma, abnormal plasma cells build up in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells. The abnormal plasma cells also can overproduce defective antibodies, which can deposit in the kidneys and damage them.
Kidney damage often can be the first sign of myeloma. Other symptoms include bone thinning and fractures. The abnormal plasma cells also can send signals to the bones and boost the activity of osteoclasts, the cells that absorb or eat bone. » Continue Reading
Treatments for kidney cancer have improved dramatically over the past few years — particularly for renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer. And the future looks bright as well.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved seven new drugs for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma, especially significant because it approved only one drug between 1992 and 2005. Further, targeted therapies are improving standard care for patients with the disease, and several promising studies could lead to new treatment advances.
Sumanta Kumar Pal, M.D., co-director of the Kidney Cancer Program at City of Hope, summed up the field in a recent interview with OncLive. “This is so incredibly promising for patients and their families,” he said of the recent developments.
But, as with most cancer treatments, new, innovative approaches are always needed. » Continue Reading
Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer have different needs and treatment challenges than children or older adults. They’re a unique population because they don’t fit into a distinct group, often falling into a gap between cancer treatment programs designed for children and those designed for adults.
Here, pediatric oncologist Julie Wolfson, M.D., M.S.H.S., discusses how the cancer experience differs for AYAs and how City of Hope’s multidisciplinary AYA team offers assistance and a network of professionals to support teens and young adults from the beginning of treatment through survivorship.
Who are AYAs and what are some of the cancers most often seen in this group?
The National Cancer Institute considers an AYA to be any patient who has been newly diagnosed with a malignancy between the ages of 15 and 39. Some of the more common cancers in AYAs are lymphomas, thyroid cancer, melanoma, testicular cancer, leukemia, brain and spinal cord tumors, cervical cancer and breast cancer. These patients have diagnoses similar to both young children and older adults, depending on what age group they fall into. For example, acute lymphoblastic leukemia is more common with younger AYAs, while older AYAs may see thyroid, breast and skin cancer more often.
What are some of the unique short-term and long-term health and psychosocial issues facing AYAs during and after cancer treatment?
Beyond feeling they’re invincible, AYAs are clearly at a unique developmental time in their life to be diagnosed with a devastating illness. Staying on schedule with their peers in school, work and keeping up with their family life are so important, and losing a (sometimes newfound) control over their lives while instead gaining a sense of social isolation can feel overwhelming. Issues such as sexuality and body image are important in a unique way in AYAs, as is fertility. Many cancer treatments can alter the ability to conceive a child – whether you’re a young man or woman. Communicating with your health-care team about whether or not there is a way to preserve fertility is a very important conversation for an AYA. » Continue Reading
Once burned, twice shy? It would seem that anyone who has been diagnosed with melanoma – the most deadly type of skin cancer – would be doubly cautious about their future exposures to the sun.
Not so, according to a new study in JAMA Dermatology, published online Oct. 2.
Because ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is the primary risk factor for developing cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM), and CMM patients are at heightened risk of developing a second primary melanoma, researchers sought to shed light on the behavior of patients over a three-year period following diagnosis.
First author Luise Winkel Idorn, M.D., Ph.D., of Bispebjerg Hospital and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and her colleagues analyzed data from 40 participants, including 20 patients with CMM and 20 control subjects who did not have the disease but who were matched to patients by sex, age, occupation and skin type. » Continue Reading
Some women never learn. Despite the overwhelming risks of developing skin cancer through indoor tanning beds, young white women continue to do it at an alarming rate, a new study shows. A City of Hope expert suggests that a form of addiction may be to blame.
A review of earlier studies, published in the journal BMJ, found that using indoor tanning beds before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk — the most serious type of skin cancer — by up to 75 percent. Using one before the age of 25 increases the risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer by up to 102 percent.
The risks, if not the precise numbers, are widely known. And yet, researchers found that about 29 percent of white high school girls use tanning beds at least once a year and about 17 percent undergo indoor tanning frequently. Frequently was defined as at least 10 times a year.
The new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used data extracted from the CDC’s 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which included responses from more than 15,000 high school students.
Even though Caucasians have the highest rates of melanoma among all ethnic groups and people with fair skin are more likely to develop skin cancer, 44 percent of teenagers admitted to have used a tanning bed by the time they were 18. By that age, 30 percent of the girls were indoor tanning frequently.
Jae Jung, M.D., Ph.D, dermatologist and assistant professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery at City of Hope, has seen melanoma patients as young as 14. She believes that some patients rely on tanning to make them feel better about themselves and, in fact, become addicted to indoor tanning.
Doctor-patient communication is vital in the delivery of high-quality health care. A good relationship with a physician can boost patients’ self-confidence, motivation and positive view of their health status, which can in turn influence their treatment outcomes and subsequent healing.
Here Shawn Steen, M.D., a City of Hope Antelope Valley surgical oncologist specializing in the treatment of breast cancer, melanoma, endocrine disorders and abdominal malignancies, discusses the importance of patient-physician communication in cancer treatment, offers some cancer prevention tips and talks about what motivated him to become an oncologist.
What’s a misconception a patient might have following a cancer diagnosis?
Many people feel powerless when they are diagnosed with cancer. However, from a physician’s standpoint, patients can have a large impact on their care. Those patients, and/or caregivers, who are organized and insightful about their tests, medication, treatments, as well their responses and symptoms to each, can greatly assist in treatment. Sometimes the physician won’t know “something is going on” unless the patient tells us. Knowledge is power, and the more a patient communicates, the better care we can provide.
What can people do to lower their risk of developing cancer?
We are learning that the immune system plays a big role in the development of cancer. The age-old wisdom of eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep and trying to keep stress to a minimum does more for cancer prevention than almost any specific medication.
Eating antioxidant foods and decreasing overexposure to carcinogen chemicals in processed foods likely helps to prevent the buildup of chemicals and genetic damage that can lead to cancer. However, these factors are difficult to study or prove in a scientific fashion since they occur over a person’s lifetime and are influenced environment, genetics and other influencers that can change risk that are beyond our control or knowledge. However, it has never been shown that cancer is more likely to develop in people who eat healthy or maintain a healthy lifestyle. » Continue Reading
With summer well underway, the importance of using sunscreen might seem obvious by now. And it is – to those not suffering from misconceptions about skin cancer. Those misconceptions, or myths, can end up raising the risk of skin cancer for some people.
Understanding this, the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has deemed July to be Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Awareness Month. Such commitment is needed. Skin cancer continues to be the most common type of cancer in the United States – accounting for nearly half of all cancers – and UV rays from the sun are the main cause of it.
Both UVA and UVB rays can damage skin and cause skin cancer. Sunlight is the main source of UV rays, which can damage the DNA in skin cells. If the damage affects the DNA genes that control skin cell growth, skin cancer can develop.
Knowing the facts about sun exposure and skin cancer prevention is crucial in reducing the risk of skin cancer. But a number of misconceptions about skin cancer can make it difficult to separate fact from fiction.
City of Hope dermatologist Jae Jung, M.D., Ph.D, sets the record straight about several common skin cancer myths.
The importance of applying sunscreen to reduce the risk of skin cancer has been drilled into the public for the past few decades. Yet studies have shown that skin cancer rates continue to climb, with melanoma diagnoses rising nearly 2 percent a year since 2000.
What are people doing wrong?
Skin cancer expert Vijay Trisal, M.D., an assistant professor in the Division of Surgical Oncology, said that consumers simply aren’t aware of what ingredients to look for in a sunscreen, much less how to decide which sunscreen or sunblock is best for them.
“Ingredients vary widely in products,” Trisal added. “People need to look for a sunscreen that contains at least one of the following: ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone or zinc oxide.”Such ingredients provide what’s known as broad-spectrum protection, reducing damage from both UVA and UVB rays. But the products themselves must be used properly. “Don’t skimp,” advises this primer from WebMD. “A number of studies show that people simply don’t use enough – and only get 10% to 25% of the benefit.”
Said Trisal: “Sunscreens also must be absorbed into the skin to be effective via a chemical reaction with the UV rays.”
Melanoma is the skin cancer that’s most associated with being lethal, but a study in JAMA Dermatology suggests a much more common skin cancer also carries a risk of metastasis and death.
The 10-year retrospective study, led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, examined outcomes for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, or CSCC, diagnosed between Jan. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2009 – the largest study of CSCC outcomes since 1968.
Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most-common skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Although most cases of this type of cancer are easily cured with surgery or ablation, the study found that the cancer carries a low but significant risk of metastasis and death.