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An experimental drug called STA-4783 may prove an effective new treatment for skin cancer, according to research presented Wednesday at a meeting of the European Cancer Organization in Barcelona, Spain.
The drug causes tumor cells to self-destruct by overloading them with oxygen. A study of 81 patients with advanced melanoma skin cancer found that the 28 who received the standard chemotherapy drug paclitaxel went an average of 1.8 months before their cancer worsened. The 53 patients who received paclitaxel plus STA-4783 went an average of 3.7 months before their cancer worsened, the Associated Press reported.
The study also found that patients who received the combination therapy survived an average of one year after diagnosis, compared with an average of 7.8 months for those who received only paclitaxel. The study was paid for by Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp. of Lexington, Mass., which developed STA-4783.
The new drug, which has no effect on normal cells, may also prove effective against other cancers, the AP reported.
HealthDay News, September 26, 2007
By Steve Herman
Beyond the well-known ravagers of youthful-looking skin, sugar and the chemical reactions that produce sugar in our cells conspire against eternal youth.
Female smokers may be much more likely to develop non-inflammatory acne (NIA) than women who don't smoke, says an Italian study in the British Journal of Dermatology.
Researchers looked at more than 1,000 women and found that 40 percent of those who smoked had NIA, compared with 10 percent of nonsmokers. Blocked pores, large white heads and small cysts are characteristic of NIA, BBC News reported.
The team at the San Gallicano Dermatological Institute in Rome said they conducted the study in women because the condition seems to be more prevalent in women than in men. Compared to nonsmokers, smokers in the study had half the levels of skin secretions of vitamin E and had other skin-related variations. The study also found that smokers who had acne in their teens were four times more likely to suffer NIA than nonsmokers who experienced teen acne.
The findings add to previous research that links smoking with acne, Colin Holden, president of the British Association of Dermatologists, told BBC News.
HealthDay News, September 18, 2007
Although it's meant to protect the skin, a cooling technique may actually boost the risk of hyperpigmentaion (discoloration) in dark-skinned patients after laser treatment for mole-like skin lesions, Thai researchers warn.
"It is not life-threatening, but postinflammatory hyperpigmentation may cause substantial psychological problems," wrote a team from Mahidol University in Bangkok. "The treatment of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation is difficult and time-consuming, often lasting many months to achieve the desired results, which causes frustration in patients and physicians," they added.
Some experts have suggested that skin cooling -- which decreases pain and allows the use of higher laser frequencies -- may help reduce hyperpigmentation after laser treatment.
In this study, researchers used laser irradiation to treat 23 Thai women (average age 43) with Hori's nevus, blue-brown pigmented spots on the skin that develop later in life.
"One randomly selected face side of each patient was cooled using a cold air cooling device during and 30 seconds before and after laser irradiation, and the other side was irradiated without cooling," the researchers wrote.
Hyperpigmentation in the patients was assessed before treatment and one, two, three, four and 12 weeks after treatment.
Of the 21 patients who completed the study, 13 (62 percent) developed hyperpigmentation on the cooled side of the face, five (24 percent) developed the condition on the uncooled side, one patient (five percent) developed it on both sides of the face, and two (10 percent) did not have any hyperpigmentation.
The cooled sides were also three times more likely to develop hyperpigmentation than the uncooled sides, the authors said. Most cases developed two weeks after treatment. All but one of the cases were completely resolved 12 weeks after treatment.
The study was published in the September issue of the journal Archives of Dermatology.
HealthDay News, September 18, 2007
The average student in the United States earns only a "D" when it comes to understanding and practicing basic hand hygiene, according to this year's annual report card from the Soap and Detergent Association.
Parents fared slightly better, getting an overall grade of "C." Moms averaged out at "B-," while Dads earned only a "D+," the trade group said in a statement.
School nurses and health professionals surveyed earned the highest average marks at "B+," while teachers were awarded a "B-."
The group's 2007 "Clean Hands Report Card" was based on telephone interviews and on-site surveys.
The SDA offered this refresher course on effective hand washing:
- Wet hands with warm running water before using soap.
- With soap, rub hands together to a lather, away from the running water.
- Wash the front and back of the hands, between the fingers and under the nails for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse well under warm running water.
- Dry hands well with either a clean towel or air dryer.
- Hand sanitizers or wipes will suffice if soap and water aren't available.
HealthDay News, September 7, 2007
For hundreds of years it’s been understood that water cleanses the skin of dirt and pollutants and that regular cleansing is not only indicative of good hygiene, it leads to better health. Unfortunately, that’s not the whole story. Water, while imperative to every facet of our lives, can actually remove skin’s natural moisturizing factors. Extended exposure to the warmer waters of a bath or shower can be particularly harmful. Cleansing agents in many body washes and bar soaps break down the skin’s natural moisture barrier, allowing moisture loss and leading to the itchy discomfort caused by dry skin.
“Prolonged exposure to water can be drying for skin, so it’s important to protect skin while in the shower,” said Dr. Karl Wei, Principal Scientist with P&G Beauty.
To understand how this happens, it becomes necessary to look into the top layer of epidermis called the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum is made up of 15-20 layers of cells known as corneocytes which are separated by natural oils or lipids. The corneocytes and lipids are responsible for holding moisture in the skin but, unfortunately, are also easily compromised.
When the skin’s necessary, natural oils are washed away, some clients will apply a moisturizer. However, many women lack the time, knowledge or convenience to replenish the lost lipids after they bathe. This can lead to dry skin and can exacerbate skin that is already dryer than average.
Taking an extra 60 seconds to examine your feet when you clip your toenails could save your life, says the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Routine self-examination of feet can help detect deadly melanoma skin cancer at an early stage, when it's easiest to cure. Half of people diagnosed with melanoma of the foot die within five years, because the cancer had already spread through their bodies by the time it was diagnosed, the college said.
In cases where melanoma is detected early, 92 percent of patients are still alive after five years.
Doing routine checks of your feet increases the likelihood that you'll spot suspicious moles, freckles or other irregularities. The college recommends you focus on the three most common areas for foot melanoma: the soles, between the toes, and around or under the toenails.
See a doctor immediately if you notice a mole, freckle or spot that starts to change over the course of a month and becomes asymmetrical or changes its border, color, diameter, or elevation.
Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, including areas that receive little sun exposure, such as the feet and ankles.
The farther a patient has to travel to see the doctor who diagnoses their melanoma, the more likely they are to have thicker -- and more lethal -- skin cancer at the time of diagnosis, a new study warns.
Patient income also makes a difference, with poorer patients getting diagnosed with thicker melanomas, the researchers said.
"Survival for patients with melanoma is dependent on stage at diagnosis. As Breslow (depth of tumor cells in the skin) thickness increases, overall survival decreases," wrote Dr. Karyn B. Stitzenberg, of the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her colleagues.
"Consequently, early diagnosis may substantially improve patient outcomes," the researchers added. But, "because melanoma can only be definitively diagnosed based on biopsy findings, diagnosis requires detection of the suspicious lesion and biopsy. Some primary care providers perform diagnostic biopsies, but many prefer to refer patients to dermatologists or surgeons."
Among the patients in this study, the median distance to a diagnosing physician was eight miles, and the median Breslow thickness was 0.6 millimeters. For each one-mile increase in distance to the doctor, there was a 0.6 percent increase in Breslow thickness, the study found.
Patients who had to travel more than 15 miles to see their doctor had about 20 percent greater Breslow thickness than those who were less than 15 miles away.
Compared to those in metropolitan counties, patients in rural counties traveled an average of 2.4 miles farther to their diagnosing doctor. Patients in counties with at least one dermatologist traveled an average of 8.3 miles less than those in counties without a dermatologist.
The study also found an association between Breslow thickness and age and poverty.
"For each one percent increase in poverty rate, Breslow thickness increased by one percent. Breslow thickness was 19 percent greater for patients aged 51 to 80 years than for those aged 0 to 50 years and was 109 percent greater for patients older than 80 years than for those aged 0 to 50 years," the study authors wrote.
The study is published in the August issue of the journal Archives of Dermatology.
HealthDay News, August 22, 2007
Hispanic-American teens are more likely than their white peers to take risks that boost their odds for skin cancer, a new survey finds.
Reporting in the August issue of the journal Archives of Dermatology, a team at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine surveyed 369 high school students (221 white Hispanics and 148 white non-Hispanics).
They found that Hispanic teens were more likely to use tanning beds, less likely to consider themselves at risk for skin cancer, and less likely to protect themselves from the sun.
Compared to white non-Hispanics, white Hispanics were:
- More likely to tan deeply (44.2 percent vs. 31 percent).
- About 1.8 times more likely to never or rarely use sun-protective clothing.
- About twice as likely to never or rarely use sunscreen.
- 2.5 times more likely to have used a tanning bed in the previous year.
- 60 percent less likely to have heard of skin self-examination and 70 percent less likely to have been told how to do it.
- Less likely to think they had an average or above-average risk for skin cancer (23.1 percent vs. 39.9 percent).
There's a real need to improve participation of white Hispanic students in skin cancer prevention programs, the authors concluded.
Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays is a major risk factor for skin cancers, and a person's majority of lifetime UV exposure occurs by age 18, the Miami team noted. White Hispanics have a lower rate of skin cancer than white non-Hispanics, but white Hispanics are more likely to be diagnosed with more advanced skin cancer.
HealthDay News, August 20, 2007
Over the past several decades, the incidence of melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer – has steadily increased in the United States. From 1995 to 2004, melanoma has increased by more than 1 percent per year in this country – in sharp contrast to overall cancer rates that have steadily decreased by 0.6 percent per year during this time. While dermatologists and other public health officials work together to try to reverse this alarming trend, key findings from a successful multi-faceted intervention program designed to increase sun-safe behavior in children could play an important role in decreasing melanoma in future generations.
Speaking today at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Summer Academy Meeting 2007, dermatologist Martin A. Weinstock, MD, PhD, FAAD, professor of dermatology and community health at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and chief dermatologist at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Providence, presented a summary of recently published research on the rising incidence of melanoma and trends in sun exposure.
“While the increase in melanoma rates from 1995 to 2004 was not specific to one age group, we did notice an increase in the youngest age group (from ages 15 to 30) and in the age 60 and older age group,” said Dr. Weinstock. “The possible reasons for this increase in younger and older Americans are not documented, but one possible explanation could be more exposure to UV radiation – which we know is the most preventable risk factor for melanoma.”
Youth and Sun Exposure
One population-based study published in the September 2006 issue of the journal Pediatrics found that although there was not a significant change in the proportion of youths that reported getting sunburned from 1998 to 2004, there were some interesting distinctions between the younger and older youths. For example, the 16 - 18 age group had more sunburns during that time period compared to the 11 - 13 and 14 -15 age groups – including an increase in the reported number of sunburns over the six-year study period. In 2004, 70 percent of the 16- to 18-year-olds reported getting sunburned, an increase from 64 percent reported by this age group in 1998.
In contrast, the study found that the younger age groups (ages 11 - 15) reported fewer sunburns and a decrease in the number of sunburns from 1998 to 2004. Specifically, the youngest age group studied (ages 11 - 13) fared the best in terms of the fewest sunburns – dropping from 75 percent in 1998 to
67 percent in 2004. Those in the 14 - 15 age group also reported a decrease in the number of sunburns from 1998 to 2004 – from 79 percent in 1998 to 70 percent in 2004.
“The study did not provide a definitive explanation as to why the younger age groups had fewer sunburns than their older counterparts, but one possible reason is that younger adolescents are more responsive to parental guidance than older teens – who tend to be influenced more by their peers,” explained Dr. Weinstock. “This trend, however, is worth noting in future public education campaigns geared toward teens and adolescents.”
Another study published in the January 2007 issue of the journal Pediatrics found that a multi-component community-based intervention successfully increased sun-protection behaviors in adolescents entering 6th to 8th “SunSafe in the Middle Years” program, designed as a randomized, controlled trial. The intervention used a broad range of role models – including school personnel, coaches, pediatricians, teen peer advocates and lifeguards – who actively encouraged adolescents to practice proper sun protection in different environments.
“The study found that there was significant improvement in the areas of the body protected by sunscreen, clothing or shade in the adolescents in the 10 communities randomly selected for the intervention versus those in the control towns,” said Dr. Weinstock. “From previous research, we know that compliance with sun-protective behaviors goes down between 6th to 8th grades. I think this study demonstrates that a multi-component program which involves a variety of people influential to this age group can have a positive impact on sun protection behavior and should be considered a model for future educational efforts aimed at adolescents.”
Adults and Sun Exposure
Adults also failed to heed the warnings of dermatologists when it comes to practicing proper sun protection. A new article published in the June 1, 2007, issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report presented data showing an upward trend in the incidence of sunburns in U.S. adults. From 1999 to 2004, there was a 2 percent increase in the number of adults 18 years and older who reported getting sunburned (32 percent to 34 percent, respectively). While this represents only a slight increase, Dr. Weinstock pointed out that the data demonstrates that the occurrence of sunburns in the adult population is not decreasing.
“Dermatologists are concerned that melanoma and other skin cancers will continue to increase as long as sun exposure does,” said Dr. Weinstock. “Since we know that overexposure to UV radiation is the most preventable risk factor for developing skin cancer, it’s critical for dermatologists to emphasize that people should practice proper protection when engaging in outdoor activities.”
The Academy recommends that people of all ages Be Sun SmartTM by following these tips:
- Generously apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A
- (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Re-apply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating. Look for the AAD Seal of Recognition™ on products that meet these criteria.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible.
- Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chance of sunburn.
- Protect children from sun exposure by applying sunscreen.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
- Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you’ve been in the sun, consider using a sunless self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
- Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.
According to current estimates, there will be about 108,230 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in 2007 – 48,290 noninvasive and 59,940 invasive. For more information about skin cancer, visit www.skincarephysicians.com and click on “SkinCancerNet.”