As May brings warmer weather and we spend more time outdoors in the sun, it also marks Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. Fortunately,
you can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer by limiting your skin's exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or man-made sources, such as indoor tanning beds. Skin cancer is also treatable when found early.
How to perform a skin self-exam
Both regular exams by your doctor and checking your skin frequently, preferably once a month, through a self-exam can help find skin cancer early. Skin self-exams are best done in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Consider asking another person to help you with the exam, especially for those hard-to-see areas like your back and scalp.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to perform a skin self-exam.
Clinical trials seek to enhance the treatments and quality of life for melanoma patients
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that begins in the melanocytes, which are the cells that give skin its tan or brown color. Melanoma is much less common than basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, but it is far more dangerous. Early-stage melanomas can often be treated effectively with surgery alone, but more advanced cancers often require other treatments. Massey is currently conducting clinical trials evaluating the latest therapies for melanoma.
An international phase III clinical trial is comparing the effects of two melanoma drugs: ipilimumab, a drug which has been shown to have anti-tumor activity in advanced melanoma, and interferon alpha-2b, which has been shown to reduce the risk of melanoma returning in a portion of patients. Another phase II clinical trial is studying a combination therapy of the experimental drugs AZD6244 hydrogen sulfate and MK-2206 on patients who have a genetic mutation called B-Raf gene, which causes their melanoma to be untreatable by surgery. Learn more.
New cancer "vaccine" shows future promise in treating and preventing metastatic cancers
Preclinical, laboratory studies at Massey of melanoma, prostate and colon tumors suggest a novel immunotherapy could potentially work like a vaccine against metastatic cancers. Research findings show the therapy could treat metastatic cancers and be used in combination with current cancer therapies while helping to prevent the development of new metastatic tumors and train specialized immune system cells to guard against cancer relapse. Read more.