Insider’s Tips for Melanoma Prevention: Make Every Day Don’t Fry Day

Don'tFryDay_logo_v2The Friday before Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. is Don’t Fry Day – a day to remember to keep your skin safe as we launch into the summer season here in the northern hemisphere.

Why you should care – the case for every day as Don’t Fry Day

Most people want to avoid getting cancer, right? How many people do you know who say, “Sure, I want to set myself up for costly visits to the doctor, scars from surgery and needing drugs that may or may not save my life and have uncertain side-effects.”

And even if you’re one of those folks who want to take the risk because it might not happen to you, you don’t want your kids, family, and friends to go through that.

Stay Shady My Friends

Melanoma is one of the most preventable cancers under the sun – pun intended. Why? Because in the vast majority of melanomas from many different patients, scientists can see that ultraviolet (UV) light caused DNA damage, and DNA damage is the number one pre-disposing factor behind cancer. Very rarely, melanomas occur without an obvious amount of UV-caused DNA damage. But that doesn’t mean that UV isn’t a major culprit in causing most melanomas. It is. And, UV rays come from two major sources in our world – sunlight and tanning beds.

In a recent article in Chicago Health magazine, Jason J Luke, MD, who treats melanoma talks about the benefits of new therapies, which while good are by no means perfect. Still an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And for skin cancer and melanoma in particular, a little effort may mean you never get a bad melanoma in the first place.

Here are some tips for protecting your skin and preventing melanoma:
• Stay in the shade whenever possible
• Avoid the sun in the middle of the day when rays are strongest
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat and other protective clothing
• Use and reapply a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen every 2 hours, and/or after swimming or excessive sweating
• Avoid tanning beds

Protect your skin – make every day Don’t Fry Day – and share with your friends and family. You could literally save a life!


Learn more about Don’t Fry Day here.

Whither melanoma and whither cancer research? 

By Louise M. Perkins, PhD
Chief Science Officer, Melanoma Research Alliance

There is no doubt that the last few years have seen incredible progress for melanoma patients with 11 treatments approved since MRA’s founding in 2007: personalized medicine, targeted therapy, immunotherapy. What remains to be done for melanoma and other cancers? How are the successes in melanoma and other research areas converging on even greater progress for patients?

The answers to these questions were touched on at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in New Orleans in late April.

First – a quick comment on the AACR Annual Meeting itself. It is the largest meeting of cancer researchers from around the world and takes place during half a week.  In that time, there are many and various presentations covering basic cancer biology, translational research and clinical outcomes.

Image courtesy of AACR twitter account.

Vice President Joe Biden speaking at the 2016 AACR Annual Meeting. Image courtesy of AACR twitter account.

Starting with the opening plenary session (featuring two MRA-funded researchers) and throughout the meeting, one couldn’t help but notice how melanoma remains as the premier case study for immunotherapy – treatment that is benefiting not only melanoma patients, but also lung, kidney and blood cancer patients.  There is continuous forward progress in building beyond the status quo to expand the benefit of these new treatments to many. Meanwhile, data at the meeting revealed that 1 of 3 melanoma patients who received nivolumab were alive at 5 years. Similarly, the news was good for combination immunotherapy with early data showing that two-thirds of patients treated with the nivolumab-ipilimumab combination regimen were alive after 2 years. This is amazing!

But challenges remain. With the increased side-effects of the combination, which patients should get single-agent vs combination therapy? And what new treatments can be brought forward for those who either never benefit or whose tumors progress despite treatment whether they have melanoma or a different cancer?  Radiation therapy, new immunotherapies, different timing of treatments, new targeted therapies, biomarkers that match patients to treatments  – all of these are under study to further improve outcomes for patients.

One last note. Treating cancer is one thing, but doesn’t it sound better to never get cancer in the first place? Unfortunately, most cancers really can’t be prevented. Outcomes are improved by early diagnosis as is the case for breast and colon cancer, but we still can’t prevent most cancers (cervical cancer is a notable exception with HPV-vaccination, by the way).  But melanoma is different and this is incredibly relevant for Melanoma Awareness month. The evidence is clear: ultraviolet light causes DNA damage leading to mutations. And melanoma tumors have the most mutations of any cancer. The pattern of the melanoma mutations is clearly due to UV exposure. Further, in mouse models predisposed to melanoma, broad spectrum sunscreen profoundly decreases the number of melanomas those animals develop. And in the absence of UV light, they get very few tumors.

In practical terms, what does this mean? Basically, use UV-safe practices! Cover up, use sunscreen liberally and avoid UV light whether from the sun or tanning beds.

To paraphrase the most interesting man in the world, “Stay shady, my friends.”


About the Author

Louise M. Perkins, Ph.D., joined the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) as Chief Science Officer in 2013 where she is responsible for the development and implementation of MRA’s scientific strategy.

Why #ItsTHATWorthIt to Me to Protect My Skin

By Lauren Leiman
Senior Director, Marketing and Development

This summer, L’Oréal Paris, in partnership with the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), is asking women everywhere to demonstrate why it’s imperative to protect their skin, beauty, and life through the #ItsTHATWorthIt social media campaign. To help kick off the campaign, L’Oréal hosted two events – one in Los Angeles and one in Miami – attended by celebrities, influential bloggers, and those affected by melanoma. I had the pleasure of representing MRA at these recent events.

MRA's Lauren Leiman and Diane Keaton.

MRA’s Lauren Leiman and Diane Keaton.

I sat alongside L’Oréal spokeswomen and actresses, Diane Keaton and Génesis Rodríguez, as well as celebrity aesthetician Vanessa Hernandez, dermatologist Flor Mayoral, and L’Oréal executives Danielle Macaluso and Malena Higuera. Diane and Génesis shared their personal experiences with skin cancer and how their encounters with the disease have positively impacted their daily beauty and health regimens. We discussed the importance of raising awareness of melanoma and ways to prevent the disease, such as wearing sunscreen every day.

Melanoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in women 25-29 years old, and for Latinos, rates have risen about 20 percent in the last 20 years. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released information last week showing that the number of cases of melanoma has doubled in the last 30 years, and it is predicted cases will continue to rise over the next 15 years.

Now more than ever, #ItsTHATWorthIt to help spread the word about the dangers of melanoma – and how you can protect yourself!

In addition to generating awareness, the #ItsTHATWorthIt program also raises funding to support year three of the L’Oréal Paris-MRA Team Science Award, which explores the origins of melanoma, including the disease’s development and progression. For every social share now through Labor Day, L’Oréal Paris will donate $1 to MRA to fund the L’Oréal Paris – MRA Team Science Award, up to $250,000 in 2015.

The audience at the Miami #ItsThatWorthIt event.

The audience at the Miami #ItsThatWorthIt event.

Here is how to participate in the #It’sTHATWorthIt campaign:

  1. Create a 15 second video or photo sharing with your social community why SPF protection or using sunless tanner is worth it to you.
  2. Share the video or photo via Insta-video/Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter with hashtag #ItsTHATWorthIt
  3. Get your unique social media community involved by tagging three friends in your post.

Check out some of our videos on Instagram!

Don’t use social media? L’Oréal is also donating $1 from sales of select SPF and sunless tanning products now through December 31, 2015.

Partners like L’Oréal help to spread awareness about the reality of melanoma and why prevention is critical, and it also helps MRA to further our mission of ending death and suffering from melanoma by supporting research.

Through the support of our partners like L’Oréal and you, we can help prevent and find meaningful cures for melanoma. Please join us and share why #ItsTHATWorthIt to you.

Let’s Continue the Momentum

By Logan Kastner
Director of Marketing and Development

The month of May flew by with a tremendous amount of energy and effort devoted to raising awareness and funds for melanoma. It was inspiring to see so much buzz in the news and on social media about the importance of using sun protection and taking the appropriate steps to reduce your risk of melanoma.

The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) is committed to keeping the momentum alive and excited to share ways you can stay involved throughout the summer. Here’s how you can continue to show your support:

  • Tell us why It’s That Worth It – Upload a 15-second video or photo demonstrating to your social community why SPF protection or sunless tanner is THAT worth it to you. Use #ItsThatWorthIt on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and L’Oreal Paris will donate $1 to MRA, up to $250,000. Take a few seconds to check out one of our videos!
  • Support Camp Gorgeous –Neiman Marcus is partnering with over a dozen companies that are generously donating 10% of the net proceeds of select suncare-product sales to support MRA during Camp Gorgeous, June 4-14. Neiman Marcus will match their donations dollar for dollar.
  • Check out Mott 50: Use the code MELANOMACURE at checkout from June 15-21 and Mott 50 will provide a 20% savings and donate 20% of sales to MRA.

An established leader in cancer research, MRA is paving the way to new treatment options for melanoma patients, and the impact is being felt in the entire cancer community. Due to the generous ongoing support of the organization’s founders, Debra and Leon Black, 100% of donations support MRA’s research program. Our work is far from over. Let’s continue the momentum toward finding a cure for melanoma!

About The Author

Logan E. Kastner is Director of Marketing and Development for the Melanoma Research Alliance. Kastner joined MRA in 2015

Melanoma Awareness: The Importance of Early Detection

The survival rate for melanoma depends a lot on the stage of the cancer. When caught early, melanoma is highly curable.Layout 1

While the overall five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with melanoma is high at 92 percent, the survival rate decreases dramatically once melanoma spreads to other parts of the body. And while treatments for late-stage melanoma are improving rapidly, thanks to research supported by MRA, the survival rates are still low.

That’s why early detection of melanoma is so important. Here are a few tips to help with early detection:

Know Your Skin and Examine it Regularly. Recognizing changes in the skin is the best way to detect melanoma early. Add monthly skin checks to your routine.

Look for the ABCDEs of Melanoma. Pay attention to moles or growths that are asymmetrical, have an irregular border, exhibit changes in color, have a diameter larger than the size of a pencil eraser, or have evolved in size or thickness. If you notice one or more of these signs, see your healthcare provider.

Know If You Are At Higher Risk

People with the following traits are at higher risk for developing melanoma and other skin cancers:

  • Fair skin
  • Red or blonde hair
  • Light eyes
  • More than 50 moles
  • History of sunburn or UV exposure
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Personal history of skin cancer

Getting to know your skin and recognizing any changes is the best way to help detect melanoma and other skin cancers. Learn more ways to educate yourself.

An Outdoor Enthusiast’s Guide to Playing It Sun Safe

divingoffboatsmaller

Johnie Gall || DirtbagDarling.com

Over the past few years, “fear” has become something of a challenge in my vocabulary. I went from someone who was scared to try surfing to someone who lives out of a revamped Dodge Sprinter van traveling the country in search of adventure. I’ve been fortunate enough to surf in Hawaii, to hike the highest peaks in Colorado, to snorkel with sharks in the Florida Keys, and to free rappel 200 feet from an arch in the middle of the Utah desert.

That’s not to say I’m fearless—there are many things that still frighten me about spending so much time in the outdoors. Bears. Falling. Broken limbs. Getting lost. Melanoma.

Yes, melanoma is a very real consideration of everything I do—though you might not believe me judging my criss-cross lattice of tan lines and premature wrinkles. Tan happens, especially when you spend the majority of your day outdoors (all the sunscreen in the world won’t change that), but so does melanoma, and I’ve chosen not to be so bold as to think it won’t happen to me. That’s why protecting my skin has become as much a part of my adventure prep as loading up my backpack and buying spare fuel.

Don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t always so cautious about skin cancer. Flashback to high school and you’d find me in a tanning booth prepping for prom and roasting at the beach with my friends. I thought hiking was synonymous with sports bras and fishing meant donning nothing more than a bikini. I actually shake my head thinking of the damage I did, but like they always say, hindsight is 20/20.

That lifestyle came to screeching halt when I took my first trip to the dermatologist in my late teens—I had a mole that looked suspicious, and my doctor wanted it off. After the biopsy, he told me it was benign. The danger was over, but the shock that something I’d always (foolishly) thought could never happen to me was actually happening was still there. It was a huge wake-up call, but I was lucky.

After my initial scare, I know that skin cancer prevention begins long before the threat becomes deadly and these days, when being outside is part of my job, I know that shielding my skin doesn’t have to mean sacrificing my active lifestyle—it just means getting creative. Here’s what I do to stay protected:

Sunscreen: Because I spend a lot of time in the water, I need a screen that won’t harm the coral reefs or marine animals when it washes off. I never leave the house without at least coating my hands, feet and face with SPF 30, and follow up with a water resistant one all over my body as soon as we start any activity.

UPF Clothing: How genius is sun protective clothing? It’s one of the first things I look for in my outdoor clothing—the good companies always make their sweat-wicking shirts and pants with UPF 15 or more. When in doubt, I slather on a layer of sunscreen under my clothing, too.

In the water: I rarely go swimming in the ocean without a rash guard—but long gone are the days when donning a quick-drying shirt meant a men’s style tee or neon monstrosity. I’m lucky enough to have a few friends who are at the helm of swimwear companies aimed at protecting skin, so surf leggings and rash guards are always in my bag or stashed in the trunk of my car.

seeaback

Giant. Hats: Here’s the great thing about wearing hats—you never have to worry about what your hair looks like. I can go without a shower for a week (something I often have to do living out of a van) and no one is any the wiser. I stock up on lifeguard-style straw hats at the flea market for summer and keep a collection of wool beanies, baseball caps and floppy felt hats in my closet for the colder months.

And if there’s one thing everyone should buy, it’s a white fishing shirt (yes, even if you hate fishing). They are light, airy, and dry like lightening. Dunk them in the water to cool off on boat rides, or wear them over your hiking clothes on hot days.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to find ways to stay out of the sun. My philosophy is this: being outside is part of my life. It always has been. It always will be. Tan will happen, but as long as I’m making every effort I can to stay safe, then I won’t have any regrets (and hopefully a healthy and happy skin suit!).

 

About the Author: Johnie Gall is the founder of DirtbagDarling.com, an online magazine for women that aims at inspiring and educating women of all skill levels on how to make the most of their outdoor experience. She’s a writer and a creative consultant who calls Pennsylvania home base (but you’re more likely to find her traveling the country in her Dodge Sprinter turned RV).