Research on Skin Caner

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas – A 1994 study using mice raised questions about whether sunscreens can protect against melanoma. At the same time, researchers asked what it is about sun exposure that increases the chances that people will get melanoma and reexamined the strategies for protection. The study found that sunscreens protected the mice from sunburn, but had no effect against melanoma. The doctors caution the public to not directly apply their findings to humans – after all this has only been tested on animals. It does however, lead them to reexamine what sunlight is actually doing. The same study also showed that mice injected with melanoma and then exposed to ultraviolet light showed an increased growth in their melanoma cells. Researchers also found that ultraviolet light suppresses the immune system.

Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Researchers using diseased cells of melanoma patients developed a vaccine they say reduces the recurrence of melanoma. Patients were treated with a vaccine made from their own cancer cells and another chemical to stimulate the immune system. After three years, 70 percent of those vaccinated remained cancer-free, compared with 20 percent in patients treated with surgery alone. Researchers expect the vaccine could be available to high-risk melanoma patients by 1999.

John Wayne Cancer Institute, Santa Monica, California – Researchers have found that people with malignant melanoma or other potentially fatal skin cancers experience many exhausting feelings that may erode their will to survive. Dr. Nancy Fawzy organizes groups to help patients keep up their spirits and avoid depression. The patients are educated about their disease, develop stress management methods and set goals for themselves.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Brisbane, Australia – Bruce Armstrong, director of the institute, says exposure to sun and not sunburn itself is the key factor in contracting skin cancer. His research shows that accrued exposure to the sun was the main cause of melanoma. He says sunburn merely identifies someone who has a high risk pattern of exposure. Nevertheless somebody who worked outside and developed pigmentation protection through suntanning had a lower cancer risk than somebody who intermittently sunbathed.

Southern Swedish Regional Tumour Registry, Lund, Sweden – Studies have found that tanning lamps and sunbeds increase the risk of developing melanoma. In a 1993 study of more than 1,000 people, those who used sunbeds or sunlamps one to three times a year had twice the risk of developing melanoma than those who never used the machines. Individuals under the age of 30 who used the devices more than 10 times a year, had over eight times the risk of melanoma than nonusers. Previous studies have also shown that tanning machine users have a higher risk of non-melanoma cancers as well.


Conquering Cancer: An Invitation to Hope, by Paul Johnson, M.D., helps people cope with cancer and understand everything they will go through in the process of their treatments. Dr. Johnson is a cancer survivor.

Why You Should Know About Melanoma, a pamphlet published by the American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Dermatology. It includes definitions and examples of melanomas, who is likely to get melanoma and provides pictures to show what melanoma is.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Melanoma of skin

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1994, Melanoma of skin
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