Finally – some good news for Melanoma!

For all the Floridians (and all sun lovers), it’s been reported that we have some good news on the Melanoma front! 

For those that don’t know, Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.  Melanoma defined is a malignant tumor of melanocytes.  Melanocytes defined are cells that produce melanin, which is responsible for the color of skin.  Fortunately, melanoma isn’t as common as the other forms of skin cancer, such as basal and squamous cell, but it’s definitely the deadliest!  Treatments usually range from surgical removal of the tumor to chemo/radiation treatments.  Your best bet for a cure is to find it early on when it’s small so you can just remove it and call it a day! 

Knowing how many basal and squamous cells my dad has had removed over the years has kept me going to my dermatologist every six months for a check-up.  I strongly recommend this to anyone who loves being in the sun and has already spent a good portion of their youth basking in the sun! 

On to the good news!  Dr. Allen Lichter, chief executive officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, states “Melanoma has just seen a renaissance of new agents, and more are being tested.”  Two new drugs Vemurafenib and Yervoy, produced unprecedented gains in survival in separate studies of people with melanoma.  The patients in the study were people with advanced, inoperable melanoma. 

Vemurafenib targets a gene mutation that exisits in about half of melanomas.  Yervoy stimulates the immune system to fight tumors. 

While the drugs aren’t cures, they are definitely a step in the right direction.  And hey…  one course of Yervoy will only cost approximately $120,000! 

I, for one, hope to learn from those that have gone before me (like my dad) and avoid the whole situation by playing it safe in the sun and keep making the annual trips to the dermatologist.  But it’s good to know that if all my precautions fail, there may be some hope for melanoma after all!

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