Preventing Melanoma: Good for Skin Lines and the Bottom Line?

6a00e55255b4628834017d432073dc970c-200wiPrevention of sunburn may make be wise for your nest egg, not just for your skin. Melanoma, one of the fastest increasing forms of potentially deadly cancer, is related to sun damage to the skin. Once it goes beyond the local stage and spreads, the chances of survival are in the order of 15%.

The good news is that various genetic subtypes of melanoma are being identified, and targeted by specific drugs. More good news is that a new “biologic” drug has been developed by Genetech named Zelboraf which blocks a specific mutated protein found in certain melanoma known as BRAF 600 V. This protein can be identified by a mutation test to see if Zelboraf will be effective in their melanoma.

The bad news is that this drug is slated to cost $9800/month. Another related drug for late-stage melanoma recently approve named Yervoy costs $120,000/treatment course. If you think it will be easy to get your insurance to cover such treatment, just try to get them to pay for an out of network visit or lab test.
Especially for those with pale skin, lots of moles, and/or a family history of melanoma, this cost really questions the wisdom of overworking oneself to save money to reward oneself with sunburn vacations and weekends getting in the sun. Your wisest path, and most affordable path, is one of reasonable sun protection with hats and clothing as preventative investment. And don’t forget to get any suspicious lesions checked.To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner
Holistic Dermatology
New York, New York

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As always, the content of this blog is for information and education purposes only, and should not be used to prevent, diagnose or treat illness; please see your physician for care.


Taking Stock of Your Medical History

6a00e55255b4628834017eea94d3ce970d-200wiDiscovery of what illness a person has, and what is the underlying reason that illness is going on, often requires a lot of information.  Most of that information is related to your history, that of your family, and that of those around you.

No one knows this information better than you, so it is helpful to keep a record of what has been going on with your health:
·      Serious or recurrent illnesses, surgeries and accidents, medications, vaccinations and other treatments, and their dates
·      Supplements, vitamins, herbs, other alternative treatments and the apparent positive and negative effects of these treatments on you.
·      Diet, or changes or slips in your diet and their dates are also important.
·      Don’t forget to get copies of important lab test results, and recent lab tests results, even if negative.From my perspective, the events preceding your illness may be the most important clue to the cause of your specific illness that followed the exposure.

It may be more useful to edit the report you bring to a doctor, rather than bringing the whole file.  Try to keep a full file for yourself, and bring copies to your doctor, so that you keep a full set of your information.  Remember, doctors may only keep records for a period of up to 7 years.

Until there is a universal medical record kept, or perhaps a chip with that information in our wallet or under our skin, you are the best keeper and provider of information which may help with your health.

Put together your own health file, and keep it where you or your family can find it.
To your health,Dr. Alan M. Dattner
Holistic Dermatology
New York, New York

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As always, the content of this blog is for information and education purposes only, and should not be used to prevent, diagnose or treat illness; please see your physician for care.

 


Melanoma Immunotherapy

6a00e55255b4628834017eea94de34970d-200wiI recently read a report in March in the journal Drugs in Dermatology about a man with metastatic melanoma (spreading skin cancer,) who had a partial regression of internal melanoma spreading. It occurred after applying a cream to the skin that was prescribed for lesser skin cancers.  The cream is Imiquimod, and was designed to stimulate the immune system to react against pre-cancers, warts, and occasionally, as in this patient, for basal cell carcinomas (the most common kind of skin cancer)

It works by stimulating a primitive form of the immune system, called “Toll-Like Receptors”  (TLRs), which are a very primitive form division of the immune system that are present not only in other mammals, but also in other species including insects.  Imiquimod works by stimulating a TLR called TLR 7, which then signals other branches of the immune system to join the battle and attack and destroy the tumor.

Interestingly, this patient could not tolerate other treatment he had been given, so, on his own,  he used the Imiquimod prescribed to him for a lesser skin cancer on the superficial metastatic lesions on his tummy skin, and the internal melanoma in his liver went away completely, and other internal melanomas got smaller.

The point of this comment is not to suggest Imiqimod for melanoma treatment; it may only work in certain cases, but rather to show that the right kind of stimulation of the immune system can make a great difference in reducing the size of potentially deadly cancers like metastatic melanoma.

The literature contains numerous reports and case reports of melanoma getting smaller or disappearing with other immune stimulants including chemicals like dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) and diphencyprone, and microbial stimulants such as Bacillus of Calmette and Guerin (BCG).

Not everyone responds to any given stimulus, so the challenge is to identify what the most likely stimulus is to get a melanoma rejected, and what else is necessary to get someone’s immune system to be strong enough to fight it off.

These are questions that I have been wrestling with in laboratories from Sloane Kettering to the National Cancer Institute over the past 5 decades.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner
Holistic Dermatology
New York, New York

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As always, the content of this blog is for information and education purposes only, and should not be used to prevent, diagnose or treat illness; please see your physician for care.