Let’s start 3 new findings on melanoma:
1. We now understand UV rays better
Sunburn during childhood and teenage years is now associated with a higher likelihood of developing melanoma later on in life.
This would help explain the large incidence of melanomas on legs, arms, and torso – parts of the body where children often get sunburns.
The harmful effect of tanning beds on the skin has been further proved, leading Australia to become the first country to completely ban tanning salons.
2. DNA research to assess risk
The effect of genes on developing certain diseases has evolved a lot. Having relatives that have developed risky moles in the past, skin cancer, melanoma or pancreatic cancer is linked with a higher propensity of developing melanoma. Around 10% of the cases may be linked to inherited faulty genes.
Family cancer syndrome is known as familial atypical multiple mole melanoma syndrome (FAMMMS). The gene causing this is called the p16 gene or CDKN2A.
3. Immunotherapy is improving
Early-stage melanoma can be cured with surgery, but melanomas in further stages are still being researched in clinical trials with mixed results. Scientists are currently working on a vaccine that is using weakened melanoma cells in order to strengthen the immune system, determining it to fight against the disease.
The biological type of therapy uses substances that are naturally produced by the body. These include treatments with antibodies such as talimogene, Avastin and nivolumab.
Once every three months make sure to check your skin from head to toe. Check your partner’s and your child’s skin as well: some risky spots can appear in places we don’t normally see such as your scalp, back, and ears.
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