Melanoma Awareness Month: Opportunities to Make a Difference
Melanoma Awareness Month, held in May each year, is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of the dangers of melanoma, the importance of early detection, and the many ways to practice sun safety. From talking about sun safety to your friends and family, taking the Skin Check Pledge, posting about melanoma on social media, or highlighting prevention strategies in your organization newsletter—there are many ways we can all take part and make a difference!
Tackling Brain Metastases
Brain metastases (mets) are a frequent and often deadly problem in patients with advanced melanoma. Nearly 40% of patients with metastatic melanoma have brain mets at diagnosis, with an average survival of only 4 months, suggesting a crucial need for treatments that can rid the brain of these tumors1,2. But new cancer treatments are rarely tested in patients with active brain mets. This is largely due to concerns about whether these patients will have side effects unique to brain mets, and poorer outcomes that may negatively weigh against otherwise positive clinical benefits. Another potential concern is whether the drugs will even penetrate the brain, which has a fortress-like ability to keep substances from entering it.
Are Personalized Vaccines Part of a New Combination Approach to Treating Melanoma?
Bracing for cold weather and the threat of runny noses and sore throats, millions of Americans are vaccinated for the flu each year. By priming the immune system, the vaccine reduces the risk of catching the flu and, if not successful at preventing it altogether, reduces both the severity and the duration of symptoms. These are ‘one-size-fits-all’ vaccines that are useful for all people. But what if each and every person’s flu, like each person’s melanoma, was unique? You’d need a personalized vaccine that was made and customized for each individual. Dr. Patrick Ott, Clinical Director of the Melanoma Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and lead researcher on the BJ's Wholesale Club-MRA Team Science Award, is conducting pioneering research to harness the power of personalized vaccines to combat melanoma.
Melanoma: What You Need to Know
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Rates of melanoma are rising rapidly, especially in younger people. In fact, cases of melanoma have tripled in the last 30 years, at a time when cancer rates for other common cancers have declined.
Do you know the answer to these top ten questions people ask about melanoma?
Melanoma Leaves a Mark – but Not Always the One You Think
Melanoma is no stranger to University of Delaware Senior Samantha Stinchcomb. In fact, this silent killer has been part of her life for the last 11 years – over half her life. She learned the hard way, at the sobering age of 13, that melanoma ‘isn’t just skin cancer’ when her father lost his three year battle with the disease. Since then, Samantha has been diligent about her own skin – and has had 16 precancerous moles removed. “It took my father, my best friend, from this earth and my life. In the almost 8 years since my dad’s been gone,” said Samantha. “I’ve also learned melanoma doesn’t plan on getting out of my life anytime soon.”
Our Research Saves Lives: MRA Grants Over $100 Million in Ten Years
Through powerful research, the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) is quickly delivering results and saving lives. In ten years, the Melanoma Research Alliance has become the largest, non-profit funder of melanoma research worldwide. In fact, with Tuesday's announcement of 28 new grant awards – MRA has now funded $100 million in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment!
Your Opportunity to Help Advance Melanoma Research
Beyond protecting yourself through sun-safety and skin-checks – one of the best ways you can observe Melanoma Awareness Month is by raising funds to support melanoma research!
Embrace Your Skin and Don't Be Anything that You Aren't
This freckled red head was never meant to be tan, but it didn’t stop her from trying. Stefani Schuetz just wanted that ‘perfect glow’ that she hoped would help her fit in after moving to Florida. She was training for a triathalon – a race requiring swimming, cycling, and running – with her sister when everything changed. Her sister thought she saw a bug on the back of her leg – but this bug turned out to be much worse. Instead of a bug, Stefani found a suspect mole that she’d never noticed before. She knew she had to get it checked out, but money was tight for this single Mom; it took her four months to make it to the dermatologist for a biopsy.
Libby Kistler: “I’m Still Here”
Statistically, Libby Kistler shouldn’t be here. She was diagnosed with Stage IIIB melanoma in 2005, before treatment for late-stage melanoma was transformed by immuno- and targeted therapies in 2011.
Immunotherapy & Chemotherapy – Two Different Approaches
We’ve all seen the movie where the heroic cancer patient bravely moves through treatment as she deals with nausea, hair loss, and other side effects. For many cancer patients this picture is true, however imprecise. Hollywood has conditioned us to equate cancer treatment with chemotherapy. Twenty years ago this narrative was more or less accurate, but in a world where immunotherapies and other new treatments are increasingly being used, this narrative isn’t keeping up with today’s reality. For some people with melanoma, this stuck-in-the-past narrative may even be deadly.