Malignant Melanoma – Continues to Rise
The incidence of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, continues to rise in the UK. News this week is that melanoma is now FIVE times more prevalent in the UK than it was in the 1970s with around 1300 new cases per year. It is thought that package holidays, sunbeds and inadequate sunscreens might have contributed to this rise.
Also in the news, Pfizer, the largest drug company in the world is considering a takeover of the UK company GSK, the worlds fifth largest drug company. Both of these companies are working on novel anti cancer treatments, some of which might be used in the treatment of melanoma.
The drugs palbociclib (Pfizer) and trametinib (GSK) are both drugs which target specific molecules in the cancer progression pathway. Already, trials of combination therapy of these drugs are underway to see if some of the recent advances in advanced melanoma survival rates can be improved upon.
The drugs ipilimumab (Bristol-Myers Squibb) and vemurafenib (Daiichi Sankyo/Roche) have already been reported in these pages as showing the first reproducible survival benefit in advanced melanoma for many years.
Hopefully, as a result of this ongoing cutting edge research and scientific breakthroughs the prognosis for advanced melanoma will start to improve henceforth. However, the best treatment for melanoma is to catch it as EARLY as possible whereby a complete cure is a realistic possibility.
As previously discussed in these pages, these are the top 5 things to look out for if you are worried about melanoma:
1) Rapidly growing or enlarging moles
2) Moles that change shape and become irregular or asymmetrical
3) Blurring of the borders of a mole
4) Changing colour, particularly darkening, or more variations of colour appearing
5) Ulceration or bleeding
Remember – if you have any fears about a mole, get it checked out as soon as possible, either by your GP or a consultant dermatologist. The key thing to treating cancer is to treat is EARLY.
If in doubt, get your moles checked!