Could Bacteria Help Us to Treat Skin Cancer?

Date: Mar 2018

Skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma affect large numbers of people every year, but scientists are always working on new ways of tackling these conditions.

A New Treatment for Skin Cancer?

One new possibility for treating skin cancer has been opened up by a study that was looking for medical uses for the bacteria that live on our skin. The scientists found that a particular strain of Staphylococcus epidermidis can actually help to shrink tumours. The bacteria, which is found on the skin of 1 in 5 people, produces a substance called 6-HAP that was able to stop tumours from growing. Applying this chemical to the skin of mice was also able to reduce the number of pre-malignant tumours that formed on their skin when they were exposed to UV light. The bacteria and the chemical that they produce may therefore be able to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, as well as providing us with a potential new treatment to stop tumours growing. Further research should help to reveal how this naturally occurring substance can be used by doctors.
Key Facts on Skin Cancer:
  • Skin cancer comes in several different forms, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma as well as melanoma
  • All kinds of skin cancer can happen as a result of sun damage, so limiting sun exposure and protecting yourself with sun cream can help to prevent them
  • Skin cancer can usually be treated very effectively if it is caught early and the entire tumour can be removed, but if it spreads it can be more difficult to eliminate it completely

Tackling Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK, so any new treatment or means of preventing it could be very important. It will be a while before this research can be used by doctors, but this kind of research could one day be very beneficial. In the meantime, you can protect yourself from skin cancer by preventing sun damage and being aware of the signs of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma so that you can seek help if you need it.

Did you know?

Most moles are not a cause for concern and present a purely cosmetic problem. However, moles can occasionally undergo changes that lead to them becoming cancerous.

Acne is a common condition characterised by blackheads, whiteheads and cysts. It affects the greasy and hair-bearing areas such as the face, chest and back.

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