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Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

How Melanoma Skin Cancer Can Resist Chemotherapy is Discovered

Study results suggest new approach to treating most deadly skin cancer

Melanoma patient after cancer surgically removed from head... currently must successful treatment option.

Sept. 17, 2012 – Melanoma – the deadly skin cancer, major killer of seniors and most rapidly increasing cancer – has been almost unstoppable and a major reason has been its resistance to chemotherapy. This advantage may be coming to an end with the discovery of a genetic pathway in melanoma cells that blocks the cellular mechanism for detecting DNA damage wrought by chemotherapy, thereby building up tolerance to cancer-killing drugs.

Dr. Anand Ganesan, dermatologist, and colleagues UC Irvine’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified this as a major reason why melanoma is largely resistant to chemotherapy.

 

Related Archive Stories

 
 

Discovery of Biomarker for Deadly Melanoma Skin Cancer Offers New Hope

Researchers were able to reverse melanoma growth in pre-clinical studies  - Sept. 13, 2012

Melanoma Skin Cancer May Be More Treatable with New Discovery

Average age of melanoma diagnosis is 61; over 9,000 expected to die in 2012 - more about this skin cancer below news report - Aug. 15, 2012

Secret to Melanoma Cancer’s Resistance to Treatment Exposed - Hope for Seniors

After melanoma removed from head...Researchers say they have found why treatment is difficult and may have answer for turning this around

July 23, 2012


Links to more archived news reports below.

 
 

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Targeting this pathway, comprising the genes RhoJ and Pak1, heralds a new approach to treating the deadly skin cancer, which claims nearly 10,000 U.S. lives each year. Study results appear online in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“If we can find a way to turn off the pathway responsible for this resistance, melanoma tumors would suddenly become sensitive to therapies we’ve been using for the last 20 years,” said Ganesan, assistant professor of dermatology and biological chemistry at UCI.

This announcement just follows by a few days the news that researchers claimed discovery of a novel opportunity for melanoma skin cancer diagnostics, treatment and prevention. Yujiang Geno Shi, PhD, from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Department of Medicine, and George F. Murphy, MD, from BWH's Department of Pathology made the discovery.

"Dr. Shi and colleagues have discovered an exciting new connection between the loss of a specific chemical mark in the genome and the development of melanoma," said Anthony Carter, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which mainly funded the research.

In pursuit of a cause for the chemo tolerance, Dr. Ganesan and his UCI colleagues performed a genome-wide scan for genes controlling drug resistance in melanoma cells. Their search identified RhoJ, a gene normally involved in blood vessel growth. They saw that in response to drug-induced DNA damage in a melanoma cell, RhoJ activated another gene, Pak1, which initiated a molecular cascade suppressing the cell’s ability to sense this damage — and blocking the apoptosis process.

“Normally, such drug-induced DNA damage would result in cell death,” Ganesan said. “But this blunting of DNA damage response allows melanoma cells to mutate and proliferate. Being capable of rapid adaptation and change is a hallmark feature of this challenging form of cancer and makes it very difficult to treat.”

On the heels of this discovery, he and colleagues have begun exploring methods to inhibit the genes responsible for this DNA damage tolerance. What they come up with could one day supplement chemotherapy treatments for melanoma, Ganesan added.

Hsiang Ho, Jayavani Aruri, Rubina Kapadia and Hootan Mehr of UCI and Michael A. White of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas participated in the study, which received support from the National Institutes of Health, the University of California Cancer Research Coordinating Committee, the American Cancer Society, Outrun the Sun Inc. and the Robert A. Welch Foundation.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.


Links to More Archived Stories on Melanoma Cancer

About Melanoma

Melanoma is a form of cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). It may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as in the eye or in the intestines.

It is estimated that 76,250 men and women (44,250 men and 32,000 women) will be diagnosed with and 9,180 men and women will die of melanoma of the skin in 2012.

From 2005-2009, the median age at diagnosis for melanoma of the skin was 61 years of age.

Approximately 0.6% were diagnosed under age 20; 6.8% between 20 and 34; 10.7% between 35 and 44; 18.2% between 45 and 54; 21.6% between 55 and 64; 18.8% between 65 and 74; 16.7% between 75 and 84; and 6.6% 85+ years of age.

The age-adjusted incidence rate was 21.0 per 100,000 men and women per year.

US Mortality

From 2005-2009, the median age at death for melanoma of the skin was 68 years of age. Approximately 0.1% died under age 20; 2.6% between 20 and 34; 5.6% between 35 and 44; 13.5% between 45 and 54; 19.9% between 55 and 64; 21.2% between 65 and 74; 24.1% between 75 and 84; and 12.9% 85+ years of age.

The age-adjusted death rate was 2.7 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are based on patients who died in 2005-2009 in the US.

Lifetime Risk

Based on rates from 2007-2009, 1.99% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 50 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin during their lifetime. These statistics are called the lifetime risk of developing cancer.

Sometimes it is more useful to look at the probability of developing melanoma of the skin between two age groups. For example, 0.99% of men will develop melanoma of the skin between their 50th and 70th birthdays compared to 0.60% for women

Prevalence

On January 1, 2009, in the United States there were approximately 876,344 men and women alive who had a history of melanoma of the skin - 427,810 men and 448,534 women.

>> See the online booklet What You Need To Know About™ Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers

>> Melanoma home page at American Cancer Society

>> Melanoma Home Page at National Cancer Institute

Aspirin, Painkillers Ward Off Skin Cancer; Second Study Lets Immune System Stop Melanoma

NSAIDs decreased risk for squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma; advanced melanoma patients see scientist lower cancer barrier to allow immune system attack - May 29, 2012


Early Success in Curing Melanoma in Mice Spurs Mayo Vaccine Development

Success with melanoma adds to Mayo Clinic's growing portfolio of experimental cancer vaccines - March 19, 2012


New Therapies May Mean More Life for Patients with Advanced Melanoma

Two new drugs, vemurafenib (Zelboraf) and ipilimumab (Yervoy), showing promise in slowing the progression of this skin cancer - March 16, 2012


Metastatic Melanoma Patients Live Almost Twice as Long with New Drug

Zelboraf (vemurafenib) changes the natural history of the disease to extend survival - see video - Feb. 23, 2012


Cancer Survivors Face Increased Risk of Melanoma; Melanoma Survivors Even More

Melanoma the most aggressive, dangerous skin cancer, fifth most common cancer among men, seventh among women - Dec. 19, 2011


Pre-Melanoma Skin Lesion Found Mostly in Elderly Successfully Removed with Laser

Lentigo maligna disappears as carbon dioxide laser exerts its effect by vaporization of water-containing cells - Nov. 21, 2011


Coffee, Favorite Drink of Seniors, Provides Protection from Basal Cell Carcinoma

Women get almost twice as much protection as men among 3-cup a day drinkers - see video - Oct. 26, 2011


Senior Citizens Facing Melanoma Should Worry More About Their Health Than Their Age

Patients with lower muscle density had much higher rates of their cancer returning – regardless of the tumor size or patient's age - Aug. 30, 2011


Vitamin D Appears Linked With Risk of Skin Cancer, Although Relationship Complex

Study looked at vitamin D level in senior citizens with non-melanoma skin cancers - Aug. 15, 2011


Melanoma Skin Cancer a Chronic Disease Causing Long-Term Problems for Women

Women need additional care, including follow-up and possibly counseling to optimally cope with melanoma - Feb. 21, 2011


Screening for Skin Cancer Needs Better Guidelines, More Emphasis on Senior Men

Screening without regard for risk factors can be low-yield - only 1.5 per 1,000 people screened in a national program had melanoma

Oct. 20, 2010


Most Likely to See Basal Cell Carcinoma Return with Red Hair, More Education, Early First One

Senior citizen men are most likely victims of these skin cancers but if first is after age 75, less likely to get another

Aug. 16, 2010


New Substance Highlights Melanoma Skin Cancers for Early Detection by Hybrid Scanner

Could save thousands of senior citizens by detecting melanoma in its most curable stage

Aug. 11, 2010


Advanced Melanoma Appears Cured in Some Patients by New Ipilimumab Drug Therapy

Large Phase III clinical trial finds 67% increase in survival for this drug treatment (See Video) - June 7, 2010


UK Scientists Get Green Light to Test Vaccine for Melanoma Cancers

Hope it will reverse, and even cure malignant melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer

May 26, 2010


Studies Find Increases in Non-Melanoma, Melanoma Skin Cancers; JAMA Article Says It’s Chronic Disease

Senior Citizens major targets of skin cancer;  bout one in five 70-year-olds have had non-melanoma skin cancers, and most who were affected have had more than one

March 15, 2010


Study Finds We Are Winning the War on Cancer as Death Rates Decline Steadily Since 1990

For those under age 75, drop in cancer death rate between 1970-2006 resulted in about 2.0 million years of potential life gained

March 9, 2010


Faster Diagnosis of Deadly Melanoma Skin Cancers May Come From Infrared System

Doctors need to identify a mole that may be melanoma at an early, treatable stage to save the lives of thousands of senior citizens

Feb. 26, 2010


People with Most Moles are Most Likely to Develop Deadly Melanoma Cancer, Study Finds

Already well known that people with red hair, fair skin and those who sunburn easily are most at risk of melanoma

July 6, 2009


Most Melanoma Skin Cancers Found by Physicians are on Male Senior Citizens

These doc-detected cancers tend to be thinner, found on back, more treatable

April 20, 2009


Valentine's Day Gift Idea for Senior Couples: Screen the One You Love

Couples encouraged to examine each other for suspicious moles that could be skin cancer. Researchers estimate that 40 – 50% of people in the U.S. who live to age 65 will have nonmelanoma skin cancer at least once.

Feb. 2, 2009


Large Skin Lesions More Likely to be Melanomas; Scalp, Neck Cancers More Deadly

Screening becomes increasingly critical as rate of melanomas increases

April 21, 2008


New Type Drug Found Effective in Innovative Attack on Melanoma Cancer

New drug with chemotherapy more than doubled the time patients survived without progression of their cancer - Sept. 26, 2007


Skin Cancer Most Likely to Strike Wealthy Old Men

Top three skin cancers increase with age; but malignant melanomas decrease as men pass 75, says Northern Ireland study - June 11, 2007


Skin Cancer Information Targeting Senior Citizens Now on NIH Senior Health Site

NIHSeniorHealth.gov is based on the latest research on aging

May 31, 2007


Fastest Growing Skin Cancers More Likely to Occur in Men 70 or Older

Non-factors: age spots, history of sun exposure, skin type, history of melanoma - Dec. 18, 2006


Older Men Lead in Melanoma Deaths but Need Extra Motivation to Seek Screening

Melanomas increase 15-fold in 50 years – mostly in men over age 50

July 10, 2006


Researchers Find Success in Engineering White Blood Cells to Kill Melanoma Cancer Cells

New method of gene therapy developed at National Cancer Institute

August 31, 2006

 

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