Bob Lawrence’s journey with Metastatic Melanoma Cancer

February 18, 2012 by  
Filed under BRAIN, VIDEO

Bob Lawrence's journey with Metastatic Melanoma Cancer
Read more

Summery Christmas down under

December 27, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Sun, sun, warm sun. We had a great time here down under on Christmas Day with 25°C temperatures. Lazing around on the beach or by pool. Hmmm, I haven’t done that in a while.

The sun is such a paradox. It is the source of life. It is the best source of the essential vitamin D. It is also the main cause of skin cancer, most especially melanoma. Once again, this is proof that too much of a good can be bad for your health.

So while the American Heart Association and other health groups are actively campaigning for people to get out and be active in the northern hemisphere freezing temperatures, Australian advocacy groups are campaigning for people to protect themselves from the sun through the SunSmart campaign.

Australia has among the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. According to the Cancer Council ACT of Australia:

  • More than 1850 Australians will die from skin cancer each year.
  • Two out of 3 Australians will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.

Coming from the cold wintery north, we sometimes are unprepared for the intensity of the sun down south. The ACT gives us the “5 S’s”- SunSmart tips that will help us remember how to protect ourselves from the sun.

Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.

Slop on SPF30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen. Always use in combination with the other sun protection measures. Reapply every 2 hours.

Slap on a hat that protects your face, head, neck and ears.

Slide on some sunglasses. A close fitting, wrap-around style will offer best protection. Sunglasses should meet Australian

Seek shade whenever possible.

Still, there are conflicts of interests that can hamper the SunSmart campaign. The Australian province of Victoria is having problems with the many summer festivals currently ongoing. The festivals are very popular among the young people but for security reason, liquids are not allowed in the festival locations and are confiscated at entry points. Thus, sunscreens are confiscated.

SunSmart manager Sue Heward appeals to the festival organizers:

“We implore festival organisers to put in place a UV policy that ensures their patrons are supplied with sunscreen, whether it be at a number of different easy-to-access locations around the festival area, and/or roving sunscreen sellers or that there is an exception to the no liquids allowed policy allowing patrons to bring their own.”

Sunscreen: friend or foe?

July 14, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

suncreamSunscreens are supposed to protect our skin from the sun’s UV rays, thereby lowering the risk for skin cancer, especially the deadly melanoma. Now come these claims that sunscreens actually do just the opposite. Let us examine the evidence.

Many sunscreens contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide, compounds that are supposed to block the UV rays. Some studies suggest, however, that these compounds produce free radicals when exposed to sunlight, leading to cell damage.

In 2000, Swedish researchers  looked at 571 people with cutaneous malignant melanoma and compared them to 913 people without skin cancer (healthy controls). The analysis showed that the melanoma incidence was significantly associated with regular sunscreen use.

Many people are quick to conclude that it was the sunscreen that caused the melanoma. However, the researchers emphasized on the following key points:

  • The study was conducted during the 1990s when the sun protection factor (SPFs) for sunscreens was generally low. The SPF used by the study participants ranged from 2 to 25, with a median of 6.
  • Those who used sunscreens reported to have stayed longer under the sun.
  • The increased melanoma risk was especially significant among those who used products with SPF of 10 or lower and among men.

The study concluded

Our results are probably related mainly to earlier sunscreens of low SPF. They substantiate the hypothesis that sunscreen use, by permitting more time sunbathing, is associated with melanoma occurrence.

A 2007 review by French researchers gave the following information:

  • Frequent sunscreen users are usually those with higher natural sensitivity to the sun.
  • Sunscreen use led to longer exposure to the sun among people who did this intentionally in order to get a tan.

It seems that sunscreen use as such doesn’t increase the risk for melanoma. However, the tendency of people to stay longer under the sun, believing that their sunscreen provides them complete protection from UV rays does play a role in increasing the risk.

There have been changes in sunscreen labelling to give consumers more accurate and less misleading information about sunscreen. Especially important is the fact that the SPF of your sunscreen does not necessarily tell you how long you can stay in the sun. It depends on so many factors including skin type, geographic location, time of the day, and weather conditions.

In addition, a broad-spectrum sunscreen, one that filters UV A as well as UV B rays has been shown to “provide better protection from solar ultraviolet-simulated radiation and natural sunlight-induced immunosuppression in human beings.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Summer is coming: how to prevent and check for melanoma

May 6, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

sunflower_fieldResource Post for May

In preparation for the summer season, there are health observances in May that are focusing on awareness about skin cancer.

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month and May 4 was Melanoma Monday and sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Identifying melanoma

It is estimated that 1 million cases of skin cancer is diagnosed in the US each year. About one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Of all types of skin cancers, melanoma is the most deadly, commonly affecting young adults aged 25 to 29 years of age.

Melanoma is characterized by pigment-producing cells that grow and reproduce uncontrollably. It may suddenly on the skin or may develop on an existing mole. According to researchers at St. Louis University, the identifying signs of melanoma are:

Who is at risk of developing melanoma?

Current guidelin1045672_cheeky_monkey_2es recommend regular screening for skin cancer, especially those at high risk for the disease. The risk factors include

  • People older 40 years of age
  • People with a fair complexion
  • People who sunburn easily
  • People who have many moles
  • People with a personal or family history of skin cancer
  • People who spend long periods of time exposed to the sun
  • People exposed to UV radiation at recreation or the work place, e.g. use of tanning salons, sunbathing, etc.

However, just because you are of the dark-haired, dark-skinned type, and you never sunburn easily doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about UV radiation. According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), certain variants of the MC1R gene increase the melanoma risk of people who are normally of low risk profile by almost two-fold. The study was presented by researchers from the Pennsylvania University.

How do we prevent skin cancer?

Here are simple tips on skin cancer prevention.

Use sunblock. It is advisable to use sun protection, even in children. Regular use of sunblock during the first 18 years of one’s life can reduce the lifetime risk by 78%. Use sunscreens whicsuncreamh blocks UV A as well as UV B radiation. For it to be effective, a sunscreen must have a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15.

Stay out of the midday sun. UV radiation is strongest at midday. Enjoy th early morning or late afternoon sun instead.

Have regular skin cancer screenings. Free skin cancer screenings are being offered by health and advocacy groups. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) offers free screening all over the US. You can request a notification from the AAD when there is a scheduled screening within a 50-mile radius from where you live. You can also send an eCard to family and friends to help spread awareness on skin cancer and inform about free screenings.

Do a self-check for skin cancer. By using the abovementioned signs for melanoma, you can check yourself and your family for suspicious pigmentation. The AAD also gives us instructions on how to perform a skin self-exam.

Avoid suntanning beds. Even artificial UV rays from suntanning lamps and beds can cause skin cancer.

The latest research news on skin cancer

Researchers from St. Louis Unisunbedversity report on the effectiveness of a topical cream in treating certain melanoma. The researchers used the cream imiquimod in treating lentigo maligna (LM) which the most common type of melanoma of the head and neck. LM is “a type of “melanoma-in- situ”, the earliest stage of melanoma [which] precedes the more invasive form, lentigo maligna melanoma (LMM).” Imiquimod was used in conjunction with surgery. Skin surgery removed the invasive area while the topical cream was applied in the surrounding area. The cream supposedly can supposedly limit the area of surgery as well as minimize disfigurement and the risk of recurrence.

According to lead researcher Dr. Scott Fosko, chairman of the department of dermatology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine

“As we’re seeing melanoma in younger and younger people, in their 30s and 40s, there is a longer window for the cancer to return and a greater desire to avoid disfiguring surgery…This subtype of melanoma is becoming more and more common, and can be one of the more challenging melanomas to manage”.

In lab tests, researchers at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center demonstrated that that the yellow spice curcumin which is also found turmeric and curry powder seems to be able to block the pathway to melanoma development.

Worth Repeating: No Such Thing as a Safe Tan

September 23, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Last week headlines across the globe shared the same note on the notion of safe tanning. All headlines seemed to agree.

There is no guarantee that indoor tanning is safe.

From WebMD, September 18, 2008. Healthy Tanning Beds? Experts Say No

Skin Cancer Researchers Oppose Industry Campaign to Portray Tanning Beds as Healthy –“..arguing that there may be no such thing as a safe tan, Society of Melanoma Research President David E. Fisher, MD, PhD, and colleagues accuse the industry of trying to confuse the public about the health benefits of tanning.”

While tanning bed are less likely to cause burns there is no doubt that UV radiation still leads to melanoma and the side effects of premature aging (wrinkles and drying of the skin), eye damage and immune suppression.

The FDA states the following:

  • There is no such thing as a safe tan. The increase in skin pigment, called melanin, which causes the tan color change in your skin is a sign of damage.
  • Once skin is exposed to UV radiation, it increases the production of melanin in an attempt to protect the skin from further damage.
  • Getting a tan will not protect your skin from sunburn or other skin damage. The extra melanin in tanned skin provides a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of about 2 to 4; far below the minimum recommended SPF of 15.

So consider these facts:

The American Cancer Society says that people 35 or younger who used tanning beds regularly had a melanoma risk eight-fold higher than people who never used tanning beds. Even occasional use among that age group almost tripled the chances of developing melanoma.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of cancer that forms in the melanocyte cells, which are the cells that form the melanin or pigment of the skin. Melanoma is less common than other skin cancers, but is the most serious type of skin cancer. Like other skin cancers, it is often curable in the early stages. It can occur anywhere on the skin, but most likely occurs in the trunk of men and the legs of women. The face and neck are also common sites. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body.

Prevention can be as simple as understanding the UV light index for your area, limiting UV exposure (including tanning beds), wearing sunglasses, protective clothing and sunscreen and. Mole inspection and removal is another important facet of the prevention of melanoma.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that in the U.S. in 2008 there will be 62,480 new cases of melanoma and 8,420 melanoma deaths.

Is it worth the risk?

Being Sun Smart Across the Globe

June 24, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER


Sun Smart Campaigns are taking place from Australia to the U.S.

Take a peek at a few videos from all over the world:

Did you know that Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world? According the Cancer Council of Victoria, over 1,600 Australians die from skin cancer each year.

Summer began in February for this country and the Cancer Council of Australia kicked off summer with marie claire magazine’s launch of the SunSmart campaign together with 17 Aussie designers as part of their 150th issue to raise awareness of sun safety. All profits from the sale go to the Cancer Council. “17 designers created limited edition items like sunnies, hats, beach towels and even Swarovski-studded wedges for Australians to get the message: stay in the shade, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat.”

Back in the U.S., Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the American Academy of Dermatology are kicking off the Play Sun Smart Campaign to Strike Out Skin Cancer by raising awareness about skin cancer and offer detection and prevention tips for baseball player, team staff and fans.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control, (CDC) who gives risk factors for skin cancer:

  • Lighter natural skin color.
  • Family history of skin cancer.
  • Personal history of skin cancer.
  • Exposure to the sun through work and play.
  • A history of sunburns early in life.
  • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun.
  • Blue or green eyes.
  • Blond or red hair.
  • Certain types and a large number of moles.

Read more

Melanoma, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Methotrexate

June 5, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Methotrexate (MTX) is a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) commonly prescribed to RA (rheumatoid arthritis patients).

Now, according to Australian researchers, increased risk of melanoma (including other malignancies) have in found in RA patients receiving MTX for treatment.

RA patients exposed to MTX were found to have an estimated 50 percent excess risk of developing cancer in any form. The risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was more than 5 times higher in RA patients than in the general population. RA patients also had a 3-fold increased risk of melanoma and almost a 3-fold increased risk of lung cancer.

While the increased risk levels for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lung cancer were in line with the findings of related studies in Europe and the United States, the high risk for melanoma stood out as novel.

This might be a warning for rheumatoid arthritis patients receiving MTX as treatment. Then why are RA patients put on MTX? Because when other medication have failed, MTX is used. Of course MTX has various side effects!

From MedlinePlus:

Methotrexate may cause very serious side effects. Some side effects of methotrexate may cause death.

Methotrexate may cause liver damage.

Methotrexate may cause liver damage.

Methotrexate may cause kidney damage.

Methotrexate may cause a decrease in the number of blood cells made by your bone marrow. T

Methotrexate may cause damage to your intestines.

Methotrexate may cause damage to your intestines.

Methotrexate may decrease the activity of your immune system, and you may develop serious infections.

Taking methotrexate may increase the risk that you will develop lymphoma (cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system).

If MTX treatment is that bad, why would anyone agree to be put on this? Also, do doctors still prescribe MTX for RA treatment?

Various studies have linked RA to an increased risk of Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma, and lung cancer. A link between methotrexate (MTX), a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) commonly prescribed to RA patients, and cancer has also been suggested. Numerous case reports of RA patients treated with MTX developing lymphoma and, even more strikingly, tumors disappearing when the drug was discontinued, have prompted concern that MTX itself may be carcinogenic. So far, however, studies addressing this concern have been inconclusive.

Maybe the findings described above by Australian researchers could be the first conclusive linking MTX to various cancers, most especially melanoma.

The M Word

April 17, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER


A type of cancer that forms in the melanocyte cells, which are the cells that form the melanin or pigment of the skin. Melanoma is less common than other skin cancers, but is the most serious type of skin cancer. Like other skin cancers, it is often curable in the early stages. It can occur anywhere on the skin, but most likely occurs in the trunk of men and the legs of women. The face and neck are also common sites. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body.

Risk Factors May Include:

  • UV light exposure-natural and artificial and a history of severe sunburns
  • Moles-excessive number of normal moles (over 50) and large number of atypical moles (dysplastic nevi)
  • Fair Skin-occurs more often in people with fair skin, freckles and light hair
  • Family History-10% of all people diagnosed have a family history
  • Immune Suppression-a weakened immune system due to other factors
  • Age-the most common cancer in people younger than 30, but more likely to occur in older populations
  • Sex-Men have a higher incidence
  • History of Melanoma-people who have had melanoma are at greater risk for a second diagnosis
  • Xeroderma Pigmentosum-a rare inherited genetic condition that prevents the skin from repairing

For more information on risk factors see the American Cancer Society site.

Read more

Melanoma: Otherwise Known As Skin Cancer

January 31, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Michael Russell

Melanoma is the most common form of skin cancer and skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the Western world. It begins in skin cells called melanocytes.

(Read the rest of this article …)

What is Melanoma?

January 14, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Max Bellamy

Melanoma is a skin disease. Cancerous cells are produced in the melanocytes, cells that are responsible for skin color. Melanocytes, in the skin, are also found in other parts of the body, like the eyes. A majority of documented melanoma infection originates in the skin. It is a skin cancer. Melanoma is also known as malignant melanoma or cutaneous melanoma. It is curable, but an early diagnosis and treatment is very important.

According to scientific research on melanoma, an exposure to ultraviolet radiation is a major cause. Dermatologists often debate on the association of sunlight with melanoma. They believe that occasional exposure to extreme sun cannot be related to melanoma. Melanoma is commonly found in black men.

Other than the U.V. rays of the sun the other causes of this cancer are mutations or the total loss of tumor suppressing genes. Melanoma is also caused by the regular use of sun beds. These beds are known to permit deep penetration of UV rays.

Doctors diagnose melanoma by examining suspicious moles, irregular in color or shape. After a visual examination, a dermatoscopic examination is conducted. It helps to illuminate the moles, revealing the underlying pigment and vascular network structure. This helps to confirm the presence of melanoma. It is advisable for the diagnosis to be performed by an experienced specialist. The early stages melonama look identical to harmless moles.

The treatment of melanoma is also performed within a multidisciplinary approach. This includes medication and radiation. The opinion of surgical oncologists, general surgeons, neurologists and neurosurgeons is also helpful. The medication or chemotherapy for superficial melanomas, such as lentigo maligna melanoma, involves the use of imiquimod topical cream. It is an immune enhancing agent.

It is important for individuals, with family members diagnosed with melanoma to get themselves checked regularly for skin cancer.

Melanoma provides detailed information on Melanoma, Malignant Melanoma, Melanoma Cancer, Nodular Melanoma and more. Melanoma is affiliated with Ozone Generator.

Article Source:

Melanomas – Visible and Invisible

December 3, 2006 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Jayanto Chatterjee

Melanoma is essentially skin cancer. If detected early enough, it can be cured in ninety-five percent of the cases. However, it can also be fatal if allowed to run its course. Melanomas can be almost invisible in some cases, so a cursory examination is not effective in some cases. Hidden melanomas are, fortunately, relatively rare.

All melanomas are formed from cells that produce pigment. These are called melanocytes. So the cancer can develop wherever there is pigmentation in the body. Hidden melanomas can occur in difficult to detect parts of the body, hence the need to do a thorough check annually.

An example of an unusual location where a hidden melanoma can develop is the eye (intraocular melanoma). So the eyes should be included in the check-up. An effective preventative would be to use high quality sunglasses with one-hundred percent UV protection. If you have prescription glasses, photochromic lenses with UV protection are preferable.

It is useful to be aware that melanomas can also develop in areas that are not exposed to sun rays. These include the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, in-between toes, under the nails, and on the scalp! Even harder to detect areas that the cancer can develop in are the genitalia, anus, and mucosal lining of the mouth.

A potentially dangerous phenomenon is a “halo nevus”. This manifests as a white halo around a mole or brown spot. It appears that the mole or spot is shrinking, but a more lethal process is underway – the melanoma is actually digging deeper leaving less of itself on the surface.


It is of vital importance that you do a body skin check every month, looking for brown spots in all the areas outlined above. What you should also be looking for are new spots or moles, or any changes to existing ones over a time period of a few months. Potentially dangerous growths are those that have asymmetrical ragged borders, or are six millimeters or more in diameter. Another danger signal is when growths disappear and reappear, or growths that bleed easily. Melanomas under the nails usually occur in the thumbs and large toes, and appear as black or brown coloured streaks.

Possible symptoms of hidden melanomas, such as in the mouth and esophagus, are inexplicable bleeding from the nose, genitalia or urinary tract, throat pain and difficulty swallowing, and a tightness in the esophageal area.

In addition to your personal monthly skin check, it is strongly recommended that you have an annual examination conducted by a qualified dermatologist.


Melanomas can develop in anybody, but the following are at a higher risk:

Those who have had a previous skin cancer. Those with a family history of skin cancer. Those with several abnormal appearing moles (dysplastic nevi). Fair skinned people with light eyes, who easily sunburn. Blacks, and dark skinned people, are susceptible to under the nail melanomas (subungual), and mucosal melanoma.


Avoid excessive exposure to the sun, but don’t be obsessive about it. Remember, sunlight stimulates the formation of vitamin D, which is important for the body. Conduct frequent checks on yourself, especially if you fall into the high risk group. And, studies show that if you exercise regularly, you gain protection from melanoma. Researchers think that this might be because exercise enhances a process called UVB-induced apoptosis, in which the body kills sun-damaged cells.

Roshmi Raychaudhuri & Jay Chatterjee launched their web site to promote Tibetan anti-aging yoga, and a broad spectrum of natural health products and informative articles. Jay, an ex-finance executive, resides in Canada and Roshmi, an art gallery owner, lives in India. They share an avid interest in natural and holistic health subjects. Their websites: and

Article Source:

Inducing melanoma for cancer vaccine development

April 1, 2006 by  
Filed under CANCER

Inducing melanoma for cancer vaccine development from

Cancer vaccines are being investigated in early-phase clinical trials around the world, with many of those trials recruiting patients with melanoma. Although tumor regressions have been seen in 10% to 20% of patients with metastatic melanoma, the great promise of cancer vaccines – controlling tumor growth and cancer spread without serious side-effects – remains as yet unrealized.

This could be set to change with the publication of a new mouse model technology in Cancer Research, the journal of the American Association of Cancer Research, from a multi-national team led by investigators at the Brussels Branch of the global Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR).

“Melanoma has been a focus of cancer vaccine development because many melanoma-specific vaccine targets, so-called ‘cancer antigens’, have been defined,” says the study’s senior author, LICR’s Dr. Benoit Van den Eynde. “However, we have a limited understanding of how most, but not all, melanomas evade an immune system that has been primed to detect and destroy cancer cells carrying one of these defined cancer antigens.”

According to Dr. Van den Eynde, this is due in part to the lack of appropriate animal models in which detailed immunological analyses can be performed before and after vaccination. “The models we use to investigate cancer vaccines at the preclinical level either have a defined cancer antigen in a transplanted tumor, or they have an ‘original’ tumor that doesn’t have a defined antigen. However, in human clinical studies, we have original tumors with defined antigens. So there has been a need for a mouse model that more closely follows the human model.”

Thus the Institute that first cloned mouse and human cancer antigens, allowing the rational design of cancer vaccines, has developed a model in which melanoma with a defined cancer antigen can be induced. The model has been engineered to have several mutations found to occur together in human melanoma, and so closely mimics the genetic profile of cancers treated in the clinic. The team, which is comprised of investigators from Belgium, France and The Netherlands, has already begun characterizing a cancer antigen-specific immune reaction observed before the mice were even vaccinated, which they hope will lead to a further understanding of spontaneous melanoma regressions.

Dr. Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Executive-Director of New York’s Cancer Research Institute, which was founded in 1953 specifically to foster cancer immunology research, believes that this model may yield information crucial for cancer vaccines for other tumor types and not just melanoma. “We have clinical trials for cancer antigens for sarcoma, for melanoma, and for breast, prostate, lung and ovarian cancers. We’re learning a lot from these trials, but we could learn a lot more if we have a model like this, which selectively expresses each of our target antigens. Just one example might be the analysis of the immune response to cancer antigens during the early stages of cancer onset and progression, which might indicate if there is an optimum time for vaccination.”

Source: Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

© 2003-2006


Related Posts with Thumbnails

NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.