Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The good news is, this disease is extremely treatable if caught early. Cleveland Clinic experts break down the 3 main types of skin cancer and how you can spot the signs of each.
Chapters: 0:00 Intro 0:24 What does skin cancer look like? 0:49 What are the signs of skin cancer? 0:59 What are the types of skin cancer? 1:06 What is basal cell carcinoma? 1:35 What is squamous cell carcinoma? 1:52 What is melanoma? 2:26 When should you talk to your doctor about skin cancer?
Melanoma may account for a small percentage of skin cancers, yet it causes an estimated 75 to 80 percent of skin cancer deaths. Caught early, it has a 99 percent five-year survival rate, but if it slips patients’ and clinicians’ notice, digs deeper into the skin and spreads beyond the lymph nodes, that rate can drop to 25 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. The ACS predicts there will be 6,850 deaths in the United States from melanoma this year.
Although more skin pigment provides more protection, melanin itself has a sun protection factor, or SPF, of less than 5, says Fisher, suggesting that it functions physiologically as more than mere sunblock. He and others have clarified how different types of melanin raise or lower melanoma risk, and they’ve shown that any minimal benefit provided by tanning, such as the production of vitamin D, doesn’t outweigh the DNA damage caused by UV exposure.
Skin cancers are far and away the most common cancers in the United States. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas make up the vast majority, with somewhere between 1 million and 5.4 million new instances diagnosed each year. However, because these two malignancies don’t have to be reported to cancer registries, precise numbers aren’t known: The cancer officially ranked as the most common in this country is breast cancer, with 270,000 new cases each year. Melanoma is ranked fifth, with about 100,000 new diagnoses expected in 2020, reports the American Cancer Society (ACS).
From a Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News release:
“But what’s really intriguing is that we can now see how vitamin D might help the immune system fight cancer. We know when the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is active in melanoma, it can dampen down the immune response causing fewer immune cells to reach the inside of the tumor, where they could potentially fight the cancer better.
“Although vitamin D on its own won’t treat cancer, we could take insights from the way it works to boost the effects of immunotherapy, which uses the immune system to find and attack cancer cells.”
In melanoma patients, elevated serum levels of vitamin D appear to be helpful. Tumors are thinner. Outcomes are improved. But how, exactly, are these benefits realized? To answer this question, researchers at the University of Leeds scrutinized the interaction between vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor (VDR) on melanoma cells. The researchers, fully aware that vitamin D on its own won’t treat cancer, hoped to identify cell signaling pathways that could lead to new therapeutic strategies.
Now, researchers have developed a fast-acting skin patch that efficiently delivers medication to attack melanoma cells. The device, tested in mice and human skin samples, is an advance toward developing a vaccine to treat melanoma and has widespread applications for other vaccines.
Nearly 100,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed annually, and 20 Americans die every day from it. Now, researchers have developed a skin patch that efficiently delivers medication within one minute to attack melanoma cells. The device, tested in mice and human skin samples, also could be adapted to deliver other vaccines.
“Our patch has a unique chemical coating and mode of action that allows it to be applied and removed from the skin in just a minute while still delivering a therapeutic dose of drugs,” says Yanpu He, a graduate student who helped develop the device. “Our patches elicit a robust antibody response in living mice and show promise in eliciting a strong immune response in human skin.”