Age Isnt The Only Skin Cancer Risk Factor
As mentioned above, the suns UV rays are the primary cause of skin cancer, which makes older individuals more susceptible to melanoma. That said, age isnt the only factor to consider when assessing ones level of risk for developing skin cancer. Regardles of age, those with fair skin, freckles, and blonde/red hair, for instance, are inherently more susceptible to the suns negative effects than those with darker skin and hair. Additionally, while the rates of melanoma are higher in men overall, they are higher in women than in men before the age of 50. Lifestyle choices may have something to do with this disparity, as younger women may spend more time in the sun and tan their skin in tanning beds more than young men on average. Simply put, certain genetic factors and activities put one at greater risk of developing melanoma, age aside.
Treatment And Clinical Trials:
- The 5-year relative survival rate from diagnosis for localized, early melanoma is over 98%, but only about 25% for melanoma that has spread to distant sites.
- Since 2007, 12 new FDA-approved melanoma therapies have been developed for treatment of the disease.
- 100% of treatments and medications currently available for melanoma were first rigorously tested in clinical trials.
- 1 in 4 clinical trials fail because they dont enroll enough patients lack of enrollment in clinical trials is one of the biggest obstacles to bringing new, potentially life-saving therapies to market.
- Of all clinical trial participants in the U.S., 80-90% are white.
- Almost half of all people who participate in a clinical trial do so to help advance science and the treatment of their condition.
- Today there are more than 400 melanoma-focused clinical trials currently recruiting patients.
- Only 15% of patients in North America have been asked to participate in a clinical research study.
- Over half of clinical trial participants would recommend participation to family and friends.
- Today, only 1 out of 20 cancer patients enroll in a clinical trial.
- About Melanoma
How Is Melanoma Diagnosed
If you have a mole or other spot that looks suspicious, your doctor may remove it and look at it under the microscope to see if it contains cancer cells. This is called a biopsy.
After your doctor receives the skin biopsy results showing evidence of melanoma cells, the next step is to determine if the melanoma has spread. This is called staging. Once diagnosed, melanoma will be categorized based on several factors, such as how deeply it has spread and its appearance under the microscope. Tumor thickness is the most important characteristic in predicting outcomes.
Melanomas are grouped into the following stages:
- Stage 0 : The melanoma is only in the top layer of skin .
- Stage I: Low-risk primary melanoma with no evidence of spread. This stage is generally curable with surgery.
- Stage II: Features are present that indicate higher risk of recurrence, but there is no evidence of spread.
- Stage III: The melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes or nearby skin.
- Stage IV: The melanoma has spread to more distant lymph nodes or skin or has spread to internal organs.
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Most Melanoma Does Not Start In A Preexisting Mole
Melanoma can develop in a preexisting mole, says Dr. Marghoob, but nearly 70% of skin melanomas do not. Rather, they occur in normal skin. Moles themselves are not cancerous, and it is extremely rare for a mole to transform into a melanoma, says Dr. Marghoob. That said, he adds, having many moles helps identify people who are at an increased risk for developing melanoma somewhere on their skin.
Since most melanoma develops on normal skin, Dr. Marghoob stresses the importance of protecting the entire surface of the body, including areas with many moles and areas without any moles. Some people use sunblock only where they have moles because they think the moles themselves are dangerous, adds Dr. Marghoob. Stay safe by applying broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 30, wearing sun-protective clothing, or using a combination of the two approaches.
What Are The Signs Of Melanoma
- Cherry hemangiomas. Small red dots that are smaller than a pencil eraser, these are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the skin. They are common and can appear anywhere, but they are not linked to skin cancer.
- Lentigines. These are flat, tan-to-dark spots that look similar to freckles. They usually range from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a dime, but they could be bigger or smaller. These are what most people typically think of as age spots or liver spots. They are usually located on sun-exposed areas of the skin.
- Seborrheic keratoses. These can be flat or raised and range from pale to dark brown or black. They are often scaly or wart-like, although they are not warts. “They can be due to sunlight, age, and are also genetic,” says Dr. Wolf. People who have many of these skin changes have probably seen them before on a first-degree relative. They are also linked to skin tags, another kind of benign skin growth.
Melanoma in its early stages can resemble lentigines or, sometimes, seborrheic keratoses.”If a melanoma arises in a pre-existing mole, it is raised and smooth,” says Wolf. “If it arises on normal skin, it starts as a flat brown to black growth, then grows out or down.”
If a bump grows on a mole or in a previously flat, discolored spot, see your dermatologist right away to get checked for possible skin cancer.
If you see a suspicious spot on your skin, run through the ABCs of melanoma, says Wolf. They are:
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Causes Of Skin Cancer
One of the main causes of skin cancer is being exposed to UV rays. UV rays are invisible, and are produced by the sun, and tanning equipment.
UV rays cause skin cancer by creating changes in the cells of your skin. In some cases, the UV rays cause direct damage to your cells. Tans and sunburns, for example, are both signs that UV rays have damaged your skin. In other cases, UV rays cause skin cancer indirectly, by weakening the immune system.
Many studies on skin cancer show that people who have suffered many severe sunburns in childhood are at greater risk of developing skin cancer. Family history, some chemical exposures, and immune dysfunction conditions can also create a greater risk of developing skin cancer.
Skin Exam And Physical
You may have had a complete skin exam during your last dermatology appointment. Dermatologists often perform this exam when a patient has a suspicious spot on their skin that could be skin cancer.
During a complete skin exam, your dermatologist examines you head to toe. This exam includes a look at all of your skin, including the skin on your scalp, face, genitals, and the bottoms of your feet. Your dermatologist will also examine your nails and look inside your mouth.
If you did not have a complete skin exam before being diagnosed with melanoma, youll have one at your next appointment.
During a complete skin exam, your dermatologist may use a device called a dermatoscope
This device provides a closer look at the spots on your skin.
At your next appointment, youll receive a physical. During your physical, your dermatologist will ask how youre feeling and about your health, illnesses, and injuries. Your dermatologist will also want to know what diseases run in your family and the medications you take.
During your physical, your dermatologist will check your lymph nodes to find out if any feel swollen. There are many reasons for swollen lymph nodes. For example, if you have an infection or recently received a vaccination, lymph nodes can feel swollen. When you have melanoma, the swelling might be a sign that the cancer has spread.
If youre unsure what diseases your close blood relatives have had, try to find out
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What Is My Skin Type
Skin types that are more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation burn more quickly and are at a greater risk of skin cancer.
All skin types can be damaged by too much UV radiation. Skin types that are more sensitive to UV radiation burn more quickly and are at a greater risk of skin cancer.
People with naturally very dark skin still need to take care in the sun even though they may rarely, if ever, get sunburnt. The larger amount of melanin in very dark skin provides natural protection from UV radiation. This means the risk of skin cancer is lower.
Eye damage can occur regardless of skin type. High levels of UV radiation have also been linked to harmful effects on the immune system.
Vitamin D deficiency may be a greater health concern for people with naturally very dark skin, as it is more difficult for people with this skin type to make vitamin D.
Age Is A Primary Determinant Of Melanoma Treatment Resistance Two Studies Find
by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Age may cause identical cancer cells with the same mutations to behave differently. In animal and laboratory models of melanoma cells, age was a primary factor in treatment response.
Cancer has long been known to be a disease of aging, with 60% of cases and 70% of deaths occurring in people over age 65. The new findings by Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers, published Sept. 4 in Cancer Discovery and Oct. 23 in Clinical Cancer Research, reveal new mechanisms common in aging that contribute to melanoma spread and resistance to treatment.
Melanoma is an aggressive type of skin cancer affecting about 100,000 Americans annually.
In the laboratory, study senior author Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D., study first author Gretchen Alicea, Ph.D., and collaborators combined fibroblastscells that generate connective tissue and allow the skin to recover from injuryfrom people age 25 to 35 or 55 to 65 with lab-created artificial skin and melanoma cells. The cells with the aged fibroblasts consistently upregulated a fatty acid transporter known as FATP2 and increased the uptake of fatty acids from the microenvironment in and around the tumor. When exposed to anti-cancer drugs, the melanoma cells cultured with aged fibroblasts resisted cell death, but this rarely occurred in the cells cultured with young fibroblasts, the researchers reported.
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Melanoma Skin Cancer Incidence By Sex And Uk Country
Melanoma skin cancer is the 5th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 4% of all new cancer cases .
In females in the UK, melanoma skin cancer is the 5th most common cancer . In males in the UK, it is the 6th most common cancer .
50% of melanoma skin cancer cases in the UK are in females, and 50% are in males.
Melanoma skin cancer incidence rates rate ) for persons are significantly lower than the UK average in Scotland and Northern Ireland and similar to the UK average in all other UK constituent countries.
For melanoma skin cancer, like most cancer types, differences between countries largely reflect risk factor prevalence in years past.
Melanoma Skin Cancer , Average Number of New Cases Per Year, Crude and European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2016-2018
The Most Common Cancers In Young Adults
The types of cancers seen in young adults are not unique to this age group, but the most common types in this age range are largely different from those in children or older adults.
Some of the most common cancers in young adults are:
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Brain and spinal cord tumors
Even within this age group, some of these cancers become more or less common as people age. For example, lymphomas are more common before age 25, whereas breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers become more common after age 25.
Many other types of cancer can occur in young adults as well.
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The Verdict: Can You Be Too Young For Melanoma
While its not common to find melanoma in children, its also not impossible. And even if you dont develop skin cancer at a young age, choices you make as a child, teen, and young adult can greatly increase your chances of developing it later in life. In other words, you should remain vigilant regarding skin cancer at every stage of your life, making sure your skin is well protected from UV rays and receiving regular screenings from your dermatologist. The good news is that treatment for melanoma skin cancer is often highly effective and that the cure rate is relatively high when the cancer is caught early on.
The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners are happy to provide you with information regarding all types of skin cancer so you can take the best care of your skin and overall health. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.
Melanoma Rates Are Increasing In Teens And Young Adults
Unfortunately, young adult melanoma rates have been on the rise in recent decades, especially among women. Experts think that the increased popularity of tanning is in no small part to blame for this increase. Its important for people of all ages to know about the risks and signs of skin cancer so they can catch melanoma and non-melanoma cancers at their earliest stages. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the easier the cancer is to treat and ultimately cure.
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Cancers Of The Female Genital Tract
Cervical cancer tends to occur in midlife. Most often it is found in women younger than 50. It rarely occurs in women younger than 20. Most cervical cancers can be found early, or even prevented, with screening tests. Vaccines against HPV, the virus linked to most cervical cancers, can also help prevent it. The most common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Overall, ovarian cancer is much more common in older women than in women younger than 40. But some less common types of ovarian cancers, known as germ cell tumors, are more common in teens and young women than in older women. Early ovarian cancer usually does not cause symptoms, but some women might feel full quickly when eating or they might have abnormal bloating, belly pain, or urinary symptoms. Women who have any of these symptoms lasting more than a few weeks should see their doctor.
For more information, see Cervical Cancer and Ovarian Cancer.
What Are Possible Complications Of Skin Cancer In A Child
Possible complications depend on the type and stage of skin cancer. Melanoma is more likely to cause complications. And the more advanced the cancer, the more likely there will be complications.
Complications may result from treatment, such as:
Loss of large areas of skin and underlying tissue
Problems with the area healing
Infection in the area
Return of the skin cancer after treatment
Melanoma may spread to organs throughout the body and cause death.
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How Is Melanoma Treated
Melanoma treatment can include:
- surgery to remove the cancerous lesion
- chemotherapy: tumor-killing medicines are given by mouth, through an injection , or intravenously
- targeted therapy: specific medicines that find and attack cancer cells without hurting normal cells
- immunotherapy : when doctors stimulate the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells
The treatment chosen depends on:
- how big and how deep the lesion is
- what part of the body it is on
- whether the cancer has spread
Risk Factors And Causes Of Melanoma
Certain factors increase the risk for melanoma. These include having fair skin that burns easily, certain skin conditions, a family history of melanoma and/or unusual moles, and a history of sun exposure or sunburns. Melanoma is more common in adolescents.
- Skin color: People with darker skin are less likely to develop melanoma. People who have fair skin, light or red hair, light colored eyes and tend to sunburn easily are at higher risk.
- Skin conditions: People who are born with large dark spots on their skin called melanocytic nevi are more likely to develop melanoma. Certain inherited conditions such as xeroderma pigmentosum, retinoblastoma, and Werner syndrome can also increase risk.
- Family history: Having a family history of melanoma or unusual moles increases a persons risk of melanoma.
- UV light exposure: Ultraviolet radiation damages the DNA of skin cells. Sunlight is the main source of UV exposure. Tanning beds are another source of UV radiation. Exposure to sun and use of tanning beds is a significant risk factor for melanoma.
- Sunburns: People with a history of blistering sunburns are more likely to develop melanoma.
- Radiation therapy and prior cancer: Patients treated with radiation therapy have a higher risk of developing future melanoma.
- Weakened immune system: Low immunity due to serious illness or transplant can increase risk for melanoma.
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Tanning And Sun Damage:
- In addition to the risk of melanoma increasing by 75 percent with tanning bed use before the age of 35, there is also an association between UV-emitting tanning devices and cancer of the eye .
- Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in most cases, is related to UV-induced damage. Sources of UV include tanning beds and the sun. Severe sunburns, especially at a young age, are also linked to melanoma.
- The international Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that UV-A and UV-B rays cause DNA damage, which can lead to skin cancer in laboratory animals and humans.
Biological Therapies And Melanoma
Biological therapies are treatments using substances made naturally by the body. Some of these treatments are called immunotherapy because they help the immune system fight the cancer, or they occur naturally as part of the immune system.
There are many biological therapies being researched and trialled, which in the future may help treat people with melanoma. They include monoclonal antibodies and vaccine therapy.
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