Ninety-Year-Old Melanoma Patient Still Lives Life in the Fast Lane

It’s easy to spot Richard “Dick” Welchons’s car in the parking lot: the 90-year old drives a 2016 bright yellow Camaro, his third version of the high-powered muscle car. He has no plan to give it up any time soon — especially after doctors spotted something suspicious on his left foot in 2014, momentarily forcing … Continued

Melanoma: What It Is, How to Spot It, and Treatment Options

Medically reviewed by F. Stephen Hodi, MD Melanoma is a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer that originates in melanocytes, the cells that create pigment (melanin) to protect us from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Melanoma is categorized into one of three subtypes, depending on its location: Cutaneous melanoma: Melanoma of the skin. Common affected areas … Continued

What’s the Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Buchbinder, MD While the warmth of sunlight can be inviting after cold winter months, it is important to remember healthy habits to keep your skin safe in the sun. Prolonged and frequent sun exposure without the proper protection can result in an uncomfortable sunburn at best and significant skin damage at … Continued

For Scientist-Turned-Melanoma Patient, Immunotherapy Treatment is Precisely Right

Jen Mancuso’s analytical mind has served her well during her career as a biochemist and information technology expert. Thinking like a diagnostician has also allowed her to remain upbeat while facing the greatest challenge of her life: stage IV melanoma. A wife and mother of two pre-teen daughters, Mancusco, 41, says she appreciates the intricacies … Continued

Vaccine Implants Aim to Train Immune Response Against Melanoma

Of the many ways scientists are trying to harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer, here is one of the most innovative: an approach that involves implanting small, biodegradable, sponge-like disks under the skin to attract key immune cells in the bloodstream—and “train” them to dispatch front-line defender cells (T cells) on a cancer … Continued

Discovery May Improve Immunotherapy for Melanoma

Scientists at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) have identified biomarkers in melanoma that could help tailor immunotherapy treatments to maximize the benefits for patients while reducing the likelihood of severe side effects.

Psychosocial Care Helps Amy through Cancer’s Mental Side

Cancer can feel like a slog — not just a physical one, but an emotional one, too. That’s how 56-year-old business owner Amy Macdonald describes the past year and a half living with metastatic melanoma. “The biggest changes in my life are the consequences of the treatment – fatigue, body aches, brain fog, and mental … Continued

Cancer Treatment: A Look at How It Has Evolved in 70 Years

In 1947, when Dana-Farber Cancer Institute founder Sidney Farber, MD, set out to find a drug treatment for childhood leukemia, cancer treatment took two forms – surgery to cut out cancerous masses, and radiation therapy to burn them out. Cancers that couldn’t be removed or irradiated – either because of their position in the body, because … Continued

Is There a Connection between Cancer Medications and Increased Sunburn Risk?

By Nicole LeBoeuf, MD, MPH, clinical director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Cutaneous Oncology  While many people know that traditional chemotherapy drugs can increase sensitivity to the sun, some of the newer targeted therapies do as well. In fact, the risk of sun-related skin damage may be even higher with certain targeted drugs than with chemotherapy agents. … Continued

New Tanning Drug Could Protect Skin From the Sun

Scientists may have figured out a way to let people tan safely – without involving the sun. In an effort to further develop preventative measures for skin cancers like melanoma, researchers from Dana-Farber and other health care organizations have developed a potential topical cream that stimulates skin cells to produce the dark pigment, melanin. Melanin … Continued

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

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 checkpoint … Continued