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New UK Smartphone App May Help ID Melanomas

New UK Smartphone App May Help ID Melanomas | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A new smartphone app for identifying likely melanomas is now available in the UK. Called Mole Detect Pro, the app is based on a beta version called Mole Detective that has been available in the U.S. for 2 years. The new app analyzes uploaded pictures of moles and gauges the chances that they are melanomas using the ABCDE method that is recommended for self checks at home:

  • Asymmetry—irregular shape
  • Border—ragged, notched, or blurred
  • Color—more than one in an individual mole
  • Diameter—bigger than 6 mm
  • Evolution—changing size, color, or shape


However, while apps can help detect melanomas, recent research in JAMA Dermatology shows that that they can also miss them. Doctors caution that people should not rely on apps for diagnosing melanomas.

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Medical News Today│Mar 22, 2013

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Injections that Boost the Immune System Help Shrink Melanomas

Injections that Boost the Immune System Help Shrink Melanomas | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A phase III trial suggests that a virus-based treatment could help control melanomas that have spread, according to the pharmaceutical firm Amgen. The treatment, called talimogene laherparepvec, or TVEC, involves injecting tumors with a modified cold sore virus. The modifications make the virus grow in cancer cells, but not in normal cells, and make the cancer cells produce a protein called GM-CSF that stimulates the immune system. More than 250 people in the trial received TVEC injections every two weeks and tumors shrank in about 40 (16%) of those who were treated.

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The New York Times │ Mar 19 2013

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Skin Checks Lower Risk that Melanomas Will Spread

Annual professional skin exams are the best way to avoid invasive melanomas, according to research presented at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting. The researchers analyzed data from 387 people who had just been diagnosed with melanoma. The cancer had not spread in 64% of those who had undergone skin checks in the past year, compared to 46% of those who had not. Moreover, the former group had thinner tumors (about 0.48 versus about 0.60 mm), which decreases the risk that they will spread. Only 38% of the people in the study had undergone skin checks in the year before diagnosis.


Research article: http://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(12)01920-2/fulltext

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MedPage Today│ Mar 7, 2013

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Common Cancer Vaccine Component Backfires in Mice

Common Cancer Vaccine Component Backfires in Mice | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

New research in Nature Medicine explains why a melanoma vaccine doesn’t work as well as expected and suggests that there may be a simple fix. The vaccine includes a protein meant to stimulate the immune response against melanoma tumors, and a mineral oil-based component called IFA, intended to boost the overall immune response. But IFA backfired in mice, accumulating in—and boosting the immune response against—the injection site rather than the tumors. Switching from IFA to a saline-based component was enough to make the vaccine shrink tumors. This gives hope for increasing the effectiveness of the many other peptide-based cancer vaccines.


Read more about this story at the Cancer Commons blog: Need to Know.

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Medical News Today │ Mar 3, 2013

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Managing the Side Effects of Vemurafenib

Managing the Side Effects of Vemurafenib | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

The BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib increases survival in people with melanomas that have BRAFV600E mutations. But vemurafenib can also have side effects, including another kind of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). A new Annals of Oncology study assessed the side effects of 42 people who were treated with vemurafenib and found that 26% had SCC. Other side effects included rashes, light sensitivity, and lesions on the hands and feet. The researchers recommend that doctors measure the symptoms of these adverse reactions and that patients avoid the sun.

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Annals of Oncology │ Feb 13, 2013

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Europe Accelerates Trametinib Review

Europe Accelerates Trametinib Review | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

The European Medicines Agency has granted a speedy review of trametinib, an experimental MEK inhibitor made by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. The firm’s application for a European license includes findings from two studies of melanomas that have BRAF V600 mutations: a phase III trial comparing trametinib to two standard chemotherapy drugs (dacarbazine and paclitaxel) and a phase I/II trial comparing trametinib alone and in combination with the experimental BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib. If approved, trametinib could be available to people with melanoma within 6 months.

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GlaxoSmithKline Press Release │ Feb 7, 2013

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New Phase III Study to Test Combining Dabrafenib and Trametinib

New Phase III Study to Test Combining Dabrafenib and Trametinib | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline has started a phase III study to see if a drug combination can prevent or delay the recurrence of melanomas with BRAF V600 mutations. Both drugs—dabrafenib, a BRAF inhibitor, and trametinib, a MEK inhibitor—are experimental and the study will assess the efficacy and safety of the combination. The researchers plan to enroll about 850 people from more than 200 sites worldwide in the study. Another pharmaceutical firm, Roche, is also doing late-stage trials of a different BRAF inhibitor/MEK inhibitor combination.

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GlaxoSmithKline Press Release | Feb 1, 2013

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First Evidence That the Immune System Can Halt Cancer Progession Permanently

First Evidence That the Immune System Can Halt Cancer Progession Permanently | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

New research in Nature shows that the immune system can control tumors permanently without destroying cells. The researchers treated cancers with two proteins that activate the immune system (interferon-g and tumor necrosis factor) and found that the combination kept tumors from growing by making the cells dormant. This work could ultimately lead to cancer treatments that are both effective and free of side effects, suggesting that we shift from the "War on Cancer" strategy of killing tumor cells to focus instead on restoring the body’s innate ability to arrest tumor development.

 

Image: The red staining reveals treated melanoma cells that are no longer growing.

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Science Daily | Feb 1, 2013

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Melanoma Can Still Recur when Lymph Nodes Test Clear

Melanoma Can Still Recur when Lymph Nodes Test Clear | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A JAMA Surgery study clarified when melanoma is likely to return in people determined to be cancer-free by sentinel lymph node biopsy. The researchers found that melanoma recurred in 16% of 515 such patients and that 4% of them had tumors in the lymph nodes that had been tested. Recurrence was more likely when the initial tumors were on the head or neck and were deeper (2.7 vs. 1.8 millimeters). Recurrence was less likely in women and in people who were younger when first diagnosed.

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JAMA Surgery | Jan 16, 2012

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Mutation Linked to Less Risk of Spreading in Eye Melanomas

Mutation Linked to Less Risk of Spreading in Eye Melanomas | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A genetic abnormality may help predict which melanomas in the eye are unlikely to spread, according to a study in Nature Genetics. The researchers found that nearly 20% of 102 people with eye melanomas had a mutation in a gene called SF3B1. These people were usually younger when diagnosed and their tumors were less likely to spread and become deadly.

 

Primary source: http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ng.2523.html

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Washington University | Jan 16, 2013

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New Clinical Trial to Determine if PV-10 Boosts Immune System

The experimental drug PV-10, which is injected directly into melanoma tumors, may work partly by boosting the immune system. To find out, researchers are launching a clinical trial to see if patients treated with PV-10 have immune biomarkers in their tumors and blood. The study will enroll up to 15 patients.

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News-Medical.Net | Jan 9, 2013

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Combination Statin and Kinase Treatments Promising in Cultured Melanoma Cells

A new drug combination could treat melanomas that resist therapy with a single drug, suggests research that appeared in Cancer Discovery on melanoma cells grown in the laboratory. The researchers tested melanoma cells that had BRAF mutations and resisted treatment with the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib, and that had NRAS mutations, which resist many treatments. The most effective combination treatment was statins, which are commonly used to treat high cholesterol, but can also kill melanoma cells, and drugs that inhibit proteins called cyclin-dependent kinases, which are involved in cell division.

 

Primary source: http://cancerdiscovery.aacrjournals.org/content/3/1/52.abstract?sid=6d6d2d16-9fee-4558-b7e4-72874b041917

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Dermatology Times | Dec 19, 2012

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Sorafenib Fails to Increase Survival in Melanoma Trial

Despite promising results from small trials, a large clinical trial found that combining sorafenib with chemotherapy was no better than chemotherapy alone for melanoma patients. Sorafenib is FDA-approved for kidney and liver cancer that targets tumors by inhibiting the new blood vessels that help them grow and spread. However, this Journal of Clinical Oncology study also showed that the carboplatin/paclitaxel chemotherapy was surprisingly effective. This chemotherapy combination is now listed as a standard melanoma treatment by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines.

 

Primary source: http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/31/3/373.abstract?sid=858b01d5-675a-4cfd-92e9-f385e3993070

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Cure | Dec 17, 2012

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New FDA-Approved Dye Catches More Tumors That Have Spread

Surgeons may now have a better tool for tracking where tumors have spread, according to a phase III clinical trial that was reported in the Annals of Surgical Oncology. Tumors can spread into nearby (or sentinel) lymph nodes, and the new tool is a radioactive dye called tilmanocept that marks lymph nodes. The trial included 148 people with both melanoma and breast cancer. The researchers found that tilmanocept identified nearly 20% more tumor cells in sentinel lymph nodes than the standard blue dye (94% vs 76%). Tilmanocept, which is also called Lymphoseek, was approved by the FDA on March 13, 2013.


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Science Daily│Mar 20, 2013

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Aspirin Linked to Lower Risk of Melanoma

Aspirin Linked to Lower Risk of Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

People who take aspirin may be less likely to develop melanoma, according to a study in the journal Cancer. The study included nearly 60,000 women who were light-skinned (and so at high risk for melanoma), and the researchers found that melanoma rates were 30% lower among those who reported taking full-strength aspirin regularly for five years or more. However, the researchers caution that while their study shows a correlation between taking aspirin and melanoma rates, it can’t prove that one caused the other. That said, they recommend aspirin for people who are at the highest risk for melanoma. Other studies have suggested that aspirin may lower the risk of many other cancers, including those of the bladder, breast, colon, esophagus, ovary, prostate and stomach.


Research article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.27817/abstract

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National Public Radio│ Mar 11, 2013


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Progress in Preventing the Spread of Melanomas in Mice

Melanoma is difficult to treat once it has spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs, liver, or brain. But a new study in mice points to a way of stopping the spread in the first place. The researchers found that when a protein linked to cancer invasion was inhibited, fewer melanomas spread to the lungs. This protein—ARF6 or adenosine diphosphate ribosylation factor 6—is also involved in the spread of breast cancer and a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma. The pharmaceutical company Navigen is investigating new ARF6 inhibitors for preclinical studies.

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Science Signaling│ Mar 5, 2013

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First Treatment that Targets Melanomas with NRAS Mutations

A phase II study suggests that a MEK inhibitor drug benefits people who have melanomas with NRAS mutations, which currently have no targeted treatments. The drug, called MEK162, shrank tumors in 20% of NRAS-mutated melanoma patients (6 out of 30). MEK162 also shrank tumors in 20% of BRAF-mutated melanoma patients (8 out of 41), as well as tumors that had spread to the brain in two patients. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov as number NCT01320085 and is now recruiting more patients with NRAS mutations.

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The Lancet Oncology │ Mar 2013

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Canada to Require Skin Cancer Warnings on Tanning Beds

Canada to Require Skin Cancer Warnings on Tanning Beds | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Canada’s Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, says that the country will soon require labels that read: "Tanning Equipment Can Cause Cancer" on indoor tanning beds. Using tanning beds before age 35 years significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Quebec ban minors from using tanning beds or require parental consent and similar laws are in the works in British Columbia and Ontario. Such bans are already in place in Australia, France, and Germany.

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The Globe and Mail | Feb 24, 2013

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Elesclomol May Benefit Chemotherapy-Treated Melanoma Patients with Normal LDH Levels

A phase III trial showed that the combination of elesclomol and paclitaxel did not benefit most people with melanoma. Elesclomol is an experimental drug that can kill cancer cells and paclitaxel is a chemotherapy drug. The trial included 651 people; the combination treatment was stopped early when it became clear that most of those treated with paclitaxel alone survived longer. Most of these people also had high levels of an enzyme called lactose dehydrogenase (LDH). Conversely, elesclomol did increase survival in people with normal levels of this enzyme, suggesting that LDH levels could be used to predict who would benefit from this combination treatment.

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Journal of Clinical Oncology │ Feb 11, 2013

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Genentech Adds MEK Inhibitor to Phase III BRAF Inhibitor Trial

Biotech company Genentech has added a MEK inhibitor to a phase III trial of vemurafenib, an FDA-approved BRAF inhibitor. MEK inhibitors have been shown to counteract resistance to BRAF inhibitors. The experimental MEK inhibitor is called GDC-0973 and is also known as XL-518 or RG7421. Vemurafenib (Zelboraf®) targets melanomas with BRAF V600 mutations, which are found in about half of these aggressive skin cancers. Genentech is part of the Roche Group and the two companies are conducting this combination treatment trial jointly.

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US Securities and Exchange Commission filing │ Jan 14, 2013

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Researchers Write New Guide to Optimal Treatments for Melanomas with BRAF Mutations

Based on current data, researchers have developed a new treatment guide for melanomas with the most common mutations (BRAF V600). While these melanomas can be targeted with vemurafenib and dabrafenib, challenges remain. Not all tumors respond, some become resistant, and side effects can include another type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Other treatment options include trametinib, which targets a protein called MEK, as well as immunotherapies such as high-dose interleukin 2 and ipilimumab, both of which can control tumors completely.

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Lancet Oncology | Feb 1, 2013

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Melanoma Apps No Substitute for Doctors

A JAMA Dermatology study shows the dangers of using smartphone apps to self-diagnose melanomas. The researchers compared diagnoses of 60 melanomas and 128 benign lesions by a board-certified dermatopathologist to those of four apps. Three of the apps incorrectly said that 30% or more of the melanomas were harmless. The fourth app, which sent images to board-certified dermatologists, was better, but still misdiagnosed one of the melanomas as benign. These apps are not subject to regulatory oversight.

 

Primary source: http://archderm.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1557488#qundefined

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Eurekalert | Jan 16, 2013

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Treatment Breaks May Delay or Prevent Vemurafenib Resistance

Giving melanoma patients a break from vemurafenib could make this treatment more effective. Research in Nature shows that vemurafenib-resistant tumors keep growing during treatment because they produce high levels of mutated BRAF proteins, which are involved in cell division. Moreover, these tumors actually depend on the drug to grow. In contrast, an on-and-off treatment schedule can help keep melanomas from becoming resistant to vemurafenib in mice.

 

Primary source: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11814.html

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CancerNetwork | Jan 9, 2013

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Testing Lymph Nodes near Melanomas May Not Help

A British Medical Journal report questions an invasive, expensive standard practice for melanoma patients in the U.S. Called sentinel node biopsy, the approach involves testing lymph nodes near tumors for cancer cells and removing nodes that test positive. The report cites a 2006 study showing that sentinel node biopsy did not increase 5-year survival rates and calls for further analysis of the practice’s effectiveness. Sentinel node biopsies are not standard in the UK.

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ScienceDaily | Jan 8, 2013

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SMURF2 Inhibitors Increase Effectiveness of MEK Inhibitors

Treatments that target a protein called MEK could work better when combined with drugs that inhibit a protein called SMURF2, according to research in the British Journal of the National Cancer Institute. MEK is involved in cell division and can be activated by BRAF and NRAS mutations. However, melanomas often resist MEK inhibitors. The researchers found that MEK inhibitors made melanoma cells grown in the laboratory produce too much of a protein called SMURF2. This in turn led to overproduction of another protein called MITF, which protects melanomas against MEK inhibitors. When treated with both a MEK inhibitor called selumetinib and a SMURF2 inhibitor, tumor growth was suppressed by 98% in mice.

 

Primary source: http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/105/1/33.abstract?sid=76bd523d-0853-4b55-abe1-b7781898c5a3

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ScienceDaily | Dec 19, 2012

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