Monday, August 26, 2013

Men More Likely to Die from Skin Cancer than Women


New research shows that men are 70 percent more likely than women to die from malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.

The Cancer Research UK studied data from 2011 and found that although similar numbers of women and men were diagnosed with melanoma, 3.4 men per 100,000 die from the disease compared with two per 100,000 women.

Further analysis shows that, of the 6,200 men who develop melanoma each year, 1,300 die from it, while only 900 women out of 6,600 who develop the disease die. 

This gap is predicted to widen even more in the future, since death rates from malignant melanoma are increasing in men, but remaining stable in women.

"Research has suggested the difference between the sexes could be in part because men are more likely to be diagnosed when melanoma is at a more advanced stage,” said Professor Julia Newton-Bishop, Cancer Research UK dermatologist from the University of Leeds. “But there also seem to be strong biological reasons behind the differences, and we're working on research to better understand why men and women's bodies deal with their melanomas in different ways.”

"We also know that men and women tend to develop melanoma in different places – more often on the back and chest for men and on the arms and legs for women. If melanoma does develop on your back then it may be more difficult to spot – asking your partner to check your back is a good idea," said Newton-Bishop. 

According to Cancer Research UK, death rates for men with melanoma have increased by 185 percent since the early 1970s. On the other hand, death rates for women have only increased 55 percent. 

“One of the reasons for the difference [between men and women] may be attitudes towards seeing a doctor. [Women] tend to be reluctant to 'waste' the doctor's time - men are especially likely to put it off,” said Sara Hion, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK.”

“If something goes wrong with the car then you sort it out straight away. The same should go for you - if you, or your partner, notice any unusual or persistent changes then see your GP. The key thing is to get to know your skin and what's normal for you so you're more likely to notice something out of the ordinary,” said Hion.

Key risk factors for melanoma include excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning bed, as well as having fair skin, many moles or unusual moles, and a family or personal history of the disease.

It is essential for people to protect their skin from the sun. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Note that even products labeled “waterproof” or “sweatproof” only protect you for 40 minutes while swimming or sweating. Greenville Dermatology’s retail store carries a wide selection of broad-spectrum sunscreens that are ideal for everyday use. You should also avoid tanning beds, which have been proven to contribute to the development of skin cancer.

“Research has shown that using sunbeds for the first time before 35 can increase your risk of malignant melanoma by nearly 60 percent,” said Hion. 

Early detection of melanoma plus regular skin exams is vital for beating the disease. When detected in its earliest stages, melanoma is 99 percent curable. Call Greenville Dermatology today at (864) 242-5872 to make an appointment with a dermatologist.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Scientists discover key to sunburn pain

Scientists have identified a molecule that causes the pain we feel after receiving a sunburn. By identifying and inhibiting the molecule, researchers also may have found a way to block the pain.

A team of researchers at Duke University School of Medicine discovered the molecule TRPV4, which is found in the skin’s outer layer. The TRPV4 molecule is a “gateway” molecule that allows calcium and sodium ions into the skin. The team of researchers, led by Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke, MD, PhD, conducted tests involving the TRPV4 molecule on both mouse models and human skin samples.

"We have uncovered a novel explanation for why sunburn hurts,” said Dr. Liedtke. “If we understand sunburn better, we can understand pain better because what plagues my patients day in and day out is what temporarily affects otherwise healthy people who suffer from sunburn."

In the study, scientists engineered mice with an epidermis (upper skin layer) that was missing the TRPV4 molecule. Both the engineered mice and a control group of normal were exposed to UVB rays. While the normal skin blistered and became hypersensitive when exposed to the UVB rays, the skin without TRPV4 displayed very little tissue injury or sensitivity.


Dr. Liedtke and his team analyzed the activities of the TRPV4 molecule and found that when exposed to UVB rays, the molecule causes calcium to flood into the skin cells. The calcium ions bring in another molecule, called endothelin, which causes pain and itching in humans. 

The team then used human skin samples to test this phenomenon and found that TRPV4 reacts the same way in humans.

Researchers went a step further to inhibit the TRPV4 molecule. To try to block the pain caused by long-term sun exposure, the researchers used a compound called GSK205, which specifically inhibits TRPV4 and prevents the inpouring of calcium. Control mice injected with this compound were also resistant to the painful effects of the sunburn. 

"The results position TRPV4 as a new target for preventing and treating sunburn, and probably chronic sun damage including skin cancer or skin photo-aging," said Dr. Martin Steinhoff, co-author of the study from the University of California, San Francisco.

More research is needed to understand how the TRPV4 molecule and inhibitors can help reduce sun damage. 

People who have had at least one severe, blistering sunburn are at an increased risk of skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. All people, young and old, should visit a dermatologist several times a year to check for skin cancer. To schedule an appointment with Greenville Dermatology, call us today at (864) 242-5872.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rosacea May be Caused by Bacteria in Mites

Rosacea is a chronic and potentially life-disruptive disorder that can cause redness and bumps on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead. It can be annoying, embarrassing and even painful, and new research shows it could be the result of bacteria that resides in the belly of a mite.

For many years, doctors have known that rosacea was caused by tiny mites that live in the facial hair follicles; however, they did not understand how the mites caused symptoms of rosacea.

Researchers at the National University of Ireland recently conducted a review and found that a bacterium isolated inside the mites, called Bacillus oleronius, may be responsible for the skin disorder.

“The bacteria live in the digestive tracts of Demodex mites found on the face, in a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, a researcher with the National University of Ireland. “When the mites die, the bacteria are released and leak into the surrounding skin tissues, triggering tissue degradation and inflammation.”

The bacteria were found to produce chemicals that cause inflammation in people suffering from rosacea. Rosacea-sufferers also had higher rates of these mites than people who did not have rosacea, and thus were exposed to more bacteria.

“Once the numbers of mites increase, so does the number of bacteria, making rosacea more likely to occur,” said Kavanagh. “Targeting these bacteria may be a useful way of treating and preventing this condition.”

The findings from this recent study could lead to insights and new treatment ideas for this difficult skin disorder.

Often times, the inflammation and redness from rosacea cause significant problems for patients, both in terms of appearance and pain. This skin problem typically affects 3 percent of Americans. Individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 with fair skin who blush easily are believed to be at a greater risk, while those with impaired immune systems are also disproportionately affected.

The primary symptoms of rosacea include frequent flushing or blushing, persistent facial redness, bumps and pimples, visible blood vessels, eye irritation, swelling and skin thickening.

While there is no cure for rosacea, medical therapy is available to control or reverse its symptoms. If you think you may be suffering from rosacea, call to make an appointment with Greenville Dermatology today at (864) 242-5872.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Taller Women May Have Increased Risk for Skin Cancer

The taller a woman is, the greater her risk for developing the deadly skin cancer melanoma, according to a recent study of American women. 

The study, published in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, found that each 4-inch increase in height is associated with a 13 percent increase in overall cancer risk. The specific cancers noted were melanoma, colorectum, colon, rectum, breast, endometrium, ovary, kidney, thyroid and multiple myeloma.

The study analyzed 144,701 women ages 50 to 79 participating in the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term research program established by the National Institutes of Health in 1991.

“We found that there was a strong, significant association between height and cancer risk, both for all cancers combined and for several specific cancer sites,” said Dr. Thomas Rohan, chair and professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York.

Rohan and his colleagues adjusted for known risk factors of cancer, such as ethnicity, body weight, smoking, alcohol intake, cancer screening and hormone therapy use. The study is one of the most detailed to confirm that being tall independently increases a woman’s chances of developing cancer.

Even though the study was performed on women, it could spell out bad news for men, as well.

“Our study was in women, but when we looked at studies of men as well, it is very similar,” said Dr. Jane Green, a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, England, and the lead author of the largest study to date of the link between cancer and height. “[The link between cancer and height] doesn’t seem to depend on when the study was done, or what the population was, or what the height of the population was on average, or the ethnicity of the population. It may suggest something interesting about how cancer develops in general.”

Similar studies have been performed in other Western populations such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Asia.

“There had been several previous studies but there hadn’t been much done in North America,” said Dr. Rohan.

Although researchers don’t understand exactly why height is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer, they have come up with several theories that could explain this phenomenon. Some researchers speculate that because taller people have more cells, and cells can mutate as they divide, this could lead to a greater risk for developing cancer.

Another theory has to do with genetics.

“Eighty percent of the variation in height in Western populations is estimated to be determined by genetics,” stated the study. These same genes may contribute to cancer development, as well.

Rohan would like to see future studies examine the genes associated with height to see if there is a link to cancer.

Does this study mean tall people should worry about their cancer risk? Not exactly. Although there is a link, the association of height and cancer is significant but “modest,” said Green. Being tall actually carries a lower risk of some other diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.

“You’ve got to look at the bigger picture,” said Green.

All people, short and tall, should visit a dermatologist several times a year to check for skin cancer. Take care of your skin by wearing UVA- and UVB-blocking sunscreen whenever you’re going to be outside, and take caution to shade yourself from the sun with appropriate clothing and a hat. To schedule an appointment with Greenville Dermatology, call us today at (864) 242-5872.