Detecting a recurrence of melanoma early is crucial in effectively treating the disease. Scientists in the UK are working on developing a test that would look for traces of the cancer in the blood system, allowing doctors to catch and treat the recurrent melanoma as early as possible and treat the cancer before it has a chance to spread.
The drug Sildenafil, which is the main ingredient in a number of medications to treat erectile dysfunction, might speed up the growth of melanoma. Men with melanoma who are also taking medication for erectile dysfunction should talk with their doctors about the risks and benefits of using ED drugs containing Sildenafil.
Melanoma skin cancers often become treatment resistant, meaning that drug treatments only work for a limited time before becoming ineffective. Researchers found that adding the medication nelfinavir, a drug used to treat HIV, blocks certain molecular reactions which normally increase the ability of a cancer cell to withstand treatment.
Scientists discovered that a gene identified 20 years ago suppresses skin cancer tumors and helps to repair DNA damage from exposure to the sun. Researchers are looking at whether a drug can be developed that would mimic the behavior of this gene and repair UV-damaged cells.
It is well-known that people with red hair and freckles are more susceptible to skin cancer. Now, scientists believe they are closer to an explanation. People with red hair have two copies of a gene called MC1R. This gene increases the number of spontaneous mutations in tumors and also raises the number of different mutations in the tumors.
Melanoma is diagnosed more often in Caucasians, but African-Americans have the lowest survival rate. Although this is often attributed to people of color not seeking medical attention because they believe they are not at risk for skin cancer, researchers found that people of color may get a more aggressive form of the disease.
Researchers have found that combining immunotherapy with other cancer drugs can improve outcomes when treating malignant melanoma. However, this also increases the side effects. Researchers are looking at ways to reduce those side effects.
Actinic keratoses are precancerous lesions. Traditionally, these lesions are treated with 5-fluorouracil, a topical chemotherapy. Researchers found that combining 5-fluorouracil with the psoriasis drug calcipotriol reduced the number of lesions by close to 88 percent, compared to 26 percent with the traditional treatment.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.