Skin Cancer Research Update

New facts and findings for National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.

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The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has designated May as National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. As always, this presents the perfect opportunity to educate and re-educate your staff and clients as to the importance of early detection and UV protection. Start with these key facts from the American Cancer Society:

  • Cancer of the skin is by far the most common of all cancers.
  • There are more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed and 2.2 million people treated in the U.S. each year.
  • Melanoma accounts for less than 2% of skin cancer cases but is responsible for a large majority of skin cancer deaths.
  • It’s predicted that almost 74,000 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2015, and close to 10,000 of those cases will result in death.
  • Rates of melanoma have been rising for at least 30 years.
  • Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in Caucasian individuals than in African Americans.
  • The risk of melanoma increases as people age, but it is one of the most common cancers in young adults.

What can you do? Remind clients to pay attention to changes in their skin, include dermatological checkups in their healthcare rotation and always wear adequate amounts of an SPF product, regardless of weather or time of day.

While you’re doing your part to spread the word, research scientists and innovators continue to make new advances in understanding and treating the different forms of skin cancer. Here are some of the latest findings:

  • A new wearable device can monitor the safe amount of sun exposure for the user’s skin type. The Solitair, developed by scientists in the U.K., contains a sensor that measures sunlight exposure and that information is synced to a smartphone app that tells the wearer, in real time, when to get out of the sun. Developers stress that the Solitair isn’t a substitute for using sunscreen, because the device’s app includes it in the equation. They’re hoping to make it available commercially in the near future.
  • A team of Yale-led researchers has determined that UV-related damage to skin does not cease when the sun goes down. According to the team, melanocytes that are damaged by exposure to UV light may then go on to cause additional damage—hours after UV exposure has ended. Because melanin also has shielding properties, it’s now believed that the color-giving agent has both carcinogenic and protective effects.
  • People with high risk factors for developing skin cancer—such as congenital conditions, a history of the disease or a compromised immune system—can sometimes be helped with chemoprevention, the use of drugs to reduce cancer risk, says the American Cancer Society. Retinoids, for example, have shown promise in reducing the risk of squamous cell cancers. Targeted drugs called hedgehog pathway inhibitors may work for people with basal cell nevus syndrome, a group of defects that is passed down through families and predisposes them to develop basal cell carcinomas.
  • A new study published in Experimental Dermatology points to licorice extract as a potential new hero in the fight against dangerous sun damage. Researchers irradiated skin cells pretreated with Licochalcone A—a main component and active found in Chinese licorice—and were able to detect higher amounts of antioxidant molecules and fewer harmful radicals than were previously seen. The study seems to indicate that the ingredients works by strengthening the skin’s own defense systems.
  • A new study published in Nature concludes that redheads are more prone to melanoma than non-redheads. According to the study, the damaging free radicals normally produced by UV sun form in the skin of redheads even without UV exposure, due to their unique melanin pigment type.
  • Odors from human skin cells may enable us to identify melanoma early enough to save lives, according to research from the Monell Center in Philadelphia. Currently, successful early detection depends on visual examinations, whose reliability varies. The key lies in VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, which are associated with a number of cancers, as well as infections and genetic disorders. The practical application of this theory would require a reliable sensor device for diagnosis, but researchers believe that it’s well within the realm of possibility.

Now, head over to our photo gallery of Top SPF Products to see 30 of the best sunscreens you and your clients can wear for protection all summer long.

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