Fast facts on melanoma and other skin cancers

Massive Bio co-founder and chief medical officer, Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla, MD, answered questions about melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, USA, Sept. 28, 2022 / — What is skin cancer and how does it develop?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It thrives with DNA damage resulting in the uncontrolled growth of malignant skin cells. Skin cancer is seen in areas where the sun’s rays come into contact the most, such as the face, neck, arms, legs, ears, neck and hands, but it can sometimes appear on areas not exposed to UV rays. Although it is the most common type of cancer, many cases can be detected early, which improves outcomes.

What are the symptoms?
Basal cell cancers usually manifest as hard, clustered sores in areas exposed to the sun. Sometimes dandruff, scaling, and opening can be seen in these lesions, which grow very slowly, increase in size over time, and change color. Squamous cell cancer shows up as raised bumps in open areas such as the face, neck, ears, lips, and hands. In a short time, the lesions grow, their shape changes and they turn into open sores. Skin melanoma can be seen as an extension of pigmented lesions that can grow in length and/or depth over time.

What are the types of skin cancer?
There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer and malignant melanoma. While some types of skin cancer are easy to treat, others can be life threatening.
• Basal cell cancer: type of cancer observed in the basal cells of the upper layer of the skin. It is the most common type of skin cancer. Basal cell cancer mainly occurs on areas of skin exposed to the sun.
• Squamous cell cancer: Squamous cell cancer has similar characteristics to basal cell cancer. The difference between the two is that squamous cell cancer develops in the squamous cells that form the middle and outer layers of the skin. It is mainly seen on the face, scalp, neck and hands exposed to UV rays. However, it can also occur in areas of the body that are not exposed to the sun.
• Malignant melanoma: Melanoma is the most dangerous and rare type of skin cancer. It is seen as a result of an uncontrolled proliferation of melanocyte cells which give color to the skin. Genetic predisposition and exposure to UV rays are the causes of the disease. If left untreated, it can spread throughout the body. Melanoma can be seen as black, brown, blue or purple spots on any part of the body.

Skin cancer risk factors
Risk factors that may be responsible for the development of skin cancer include:
• Have fair skin, red hair or freckles
• Have a family and personal history of skin cancer
• Long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun or sources such as tanning salons
• Frequent sunburns
• Having many moles on the body
• Have a weakened immune system
• Prolonged exposure to intense radiation or toxic chemicals
• Non-healing open wounds
• To smoke
• Advanced age
• Having undergone an organ transplant
• Certain skin diseases and the drugs used in the treatment of these diseases

How is skin cancer diagnosed?
Skin cancer is usually diagnosed by a doctor called a dermatologist. When skin cancer is suspected, a skin biopsy is taken from the suspicious area and sent to a laboratory for pathological examination. A treatment plan is established based on the results of the pathology.

How is skin cancer treated?
The most effective treatment method for basal cell and squamous cell cancers is surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor and a small amount of tissue around it to prevent recurrence. For squamous cell tumors, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may also be recommended, depending on the extent of the tumor. Treatment for malignant melanoma differs from the other two types of cancer. Chemotherapy or immunotherapy may be needed after surgery, depending on the stage of the tumor and whether it has spread (or metastasized) to other parts of the body.

There have been two breakthroughs in the treatment of melanoma in recent years. First, a new class of drugs called targeted therapies has become available for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. These drugs are designed to identify and attack cancer cells that have certain genetic alterations (BRAF mutations). Similarly, immunotherapy is a form of treatment that boosts the body’s natural defense network to help kill cancer cells. Scientists are currently studying even more new drugs to treat metastatic melanoma in clinical trials.

Learning you have melanoma can be upsetting and scary, but putting your treatment plan into action can help you regain a sense of confidence and calm. Your doctor will discuss your melanoma treatment options, and what’s right for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your age, general health, and specific test results. Massive Bio offers a fast, easy and free way to find clinical trials that will give you access to new melanoma treatment options. Using our unique clinical trial matching system, Massive Bio can quickly match you to clinical trials for metastatic melanoma treatments. Contact us to see if there is an appropriate clinical trial for your melanoma.

About Massive Bio
Founded in New York in 2015, Massive Bio aims to provide access to clinical trials for cancer patients worldwide, regardless of where they live or their financial situation. Massive Bio solves bottlenecks in recruiting patients for clinical trials with a unique technology service and big data platform.
Massive Bio has received investments totaling $18 million since its inception. The company has 75 employees and partners with 26 pharmaceutical and CRO companies and more than 1,000 global clinical research centers in 12 countries. Massive Bio, which has reached more than 66,000 patients in clinical trial matching, aims to bring that total to 100,000 cancer patients by expanding to 19 countries with its “100K Cancer Clinical Trial Singularity Program”, which was announced in 2021.

You can reach Massive Bio via [email protected], Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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Merve Sahin
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Merve Sahin
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