Immunotherapy Gives Melanoma Patient “Another Chance”

For nearly 50 years, Jay Schwab wondered whether the melanoma he survived as a young man would return in a more serious form. When it did, in 2016, Dana-Farber was ready with a revolutionary response. A retired pediatric dentist, Schwab is one of a growing number of Dana-Farber patients thriving in treatment due to breakthroughs … Continued

Know Your Moles: When You Should Be Concerned about Melanoma

When it comes to skin growths that can lead to melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – Dana-Farber oncologist Elizabeth Buchbinder, MD, stresses the importance of both surveillance and a sense of history. “Moles are formed when skin cells known as melanocytes grow in clusters, and most never cause any trouble,” Buchbinder explains. … Continued

Which U.S. States Have the Highest Rates of Melanoma?

Melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer that typically begins in a mole. It can occur anywhere on the body, and although it is the least common type of skin cancer, it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body and, ultimately, cause death. Within the United States, Utah has the … Continued

When Should I See a Dermatologist?

Skin cancer is very common – one in five Americans will develop the disease at some point in their lifetime. Usually, it is caused by overexposure to the sun and harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, such as those in tanning beds. Melanoma – the least common but most dangerous form of skin cancer – typically begins … Continued

What’s New in Immunotherapy and Melanoma? [Webchat]

Cancer immunotherapy is a kind of cancer treatment that mobilizes the patient’s immune defenses to recognize and attack tumor cells. It is now the treatment of choice for many patients with advanced melanoma, according to Elizabeth I. Buchbinder, MD, a melanoma specialist at Dana-Farber. “Immunotherapy has taken off,” Buchbinder says, “There are tons of areas where … Continued

Why Is It Difficult to Pinpoint the Exact Cause of a Person’s Cancer?

A diagnosis of cancer always comes as a shock, and the patient naturally asks the physician, why did this happen? Is it something I did or didn’t do, or did I inherit it, or were chemicals in the environment to blame? “Why patients develop cancers is not well known,” explains Irene Ghobrial, MD, of Dana-Farber. … Continued

10 Evidence-Based Cancer Prevention Tips

Cancer researchers continue to explore why cancer occurs in the body – and how to stop it before it shows up. Tools like genetic testing, which looks for alterations, or mutations, in a person’s genes, can help determine whether a person is more likely to develop certain kinds of cancer. But researchers have also identified … Continued

Is Itching a Sign of Cancer?

Itchy skin has many causes, including dryness and allergies, but only rarely does it signal that a person has cancer. This symptom may occur as a result of complications of the disease, and itchy, flaky skin and rashes are common side effects of some cancer drugs. Most skin cancers, such as malignant melanoma, don’t normally cause … Continued

ASCO 2016 Update: Immunotherapy and Melanoma

As one of the hottest topics in cancer research today, immunotherapy took center stage at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago. Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, a breast oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, recently sat down with other oncologists to break down … Continued

The Cell that Caused Melanoma: Cancer’s Surprise Origins, Caught in Action

This post originally appeared on Vector, Boston Children’s Hospital’s science and clinical innovation blog. It’s long been a mystery why some of our cells can have mutations associated with cancer, yet are not truly cancerous. Now researchers have, for the first time, watched a cancer spread from a single cell in a live animal, and … Continued

What Is CTLA-4 and How Does it Work in Treating Metastatic Melanoma?

Since the early 2000s, when Dana-Farber scientists discovered that many cancer cells carry “checkpoint” proteins that ward off an immune system attack on tumors, a great deal of research has focused on the development and testing of agents capable of blocking those proteins. In many patients, such agents have sent cancers into long-term remissions. A … Continued

Does Having More Moles Increase My Risk of Melanoma?

Moles are benign growths on the skin that sometimes become cancerous. But what exactly is the connection between moles and melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer? While it’s true that people with many moles should be screened more frequently by a dermatologist, scientists are learning that the mole-melanoma connection isn’t so straightforward. For example, a … Continued

FDA Approves Immunotherapy Drug Combination for Melanoma

This blog post originally appeared on Cancer Research Catalyst, the official blog of the American Association for Cancer Research. By Karen Honey, PhD Last week, new ground was broken in the field of cancer immunotherapy when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first cancer treatment to combine two of these cutting-edge agents: … Continued

What is a Checkpoint Inhibitor? Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Definition

An immune checkpoint inhibitor is a drug – often made of antibodies – that unleashes an immune system attack on cancer cells. They’ve scored some impressive successes in recent years, particularly in some patients with metastatic melanoma or Hodgkin lymphoma, and are showing promise in clinical trials involving patients with other types of cancer. Checkpoint … Continued

What Is the Link Between Diet and Melanoma?

By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD When it comes to sun safety, lathering on sunscreen, sporting broad-brimmed hats and staying in the shade surely come to mind. But diet and melanoma may also be linked. Here is some information on the emerging research around obesity, antioxidant intake, vitamin D and other potential nutrition-related links to melanoma. … Continued

Melanoma – What’s the Latest?

Sun safety applies to everyone, regardless of skin color, gender, or age. That was the message emphasized in a recent live video webchat with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) dermatologist Jennifer Lin, MD. During the chat, Lin answered questions about the latest in melanoma treatment and prevention. “The bottom line is that UV radiation … Continued

Can Kids Get Melanoma? What Parents Need to Know

Although melanoma is more commonly found in adults, childhood and adolescent melanoma affects approximately 300 children in the U.S. each year. Thankfully, the incidence rate has started to decrease in recent years. While melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer in adults, skin cancer in children is almost always melanoma. The biggest increase in … Continued