Melanoma Skin Cancer Awareness Month, May 2021

The number of detected skin cancer cases is growing with worrying rates. According to the US National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), over the past three decades, more people have been diagnosed with a form of skin cancer than all other cancers together.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. While it is less common than other skin cancer types ― as it only accounts for 1% of skin cancers ― it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths. This is because of its ability to spread to other organs and parts of the body (metastasize) very quickly if not detected and treated early.

Melanoma starts in the melanocytes, which are skin cells found in the upper layer of our skin. These cells produce the melanin pigment that determines the skin’s color and protects the skin from the ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun.

According to the American Cancer Society’s estimations in the USA, over 200,000 melanoma cases will be diagnosed in 2021. About half of these new melanomas will be noninvasive and confined to the top skin, and the rest of the cases will be invasive and could metastasize. Nearly 7,180 people in the USA are expected to die of melanoma by the end of 2021.

The first and most common sign of melanoma is a new mole on the skin – which happens in up to 80% of cases – or a change in the appearance of an existing one. This may happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas in women are the legs and in men are the back and chest, which are the areas most exposed to the sun. Normal moles usually have round or oval shape with a smooth edge. In most cases of melanoma, moles have an irregular shape and more than one color. Other signs to look out for melanoma are the mole’s growth and whether it is bleeding, itchy or sore.

The ABCDE Rule is an easy-to-remember system which outlines the warning signs of melanoma:

A is for Asymmetry: Most melanomas are asymmetrical.

B is for Border: The edges are irregular and uneven.

C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes even pink, red, white, or blue.

D is for Diameter: Melanomas may have bigger diameter.

E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

If any of the above signs are noticed, a healthcare provider must be immediately consulted to determine whether a mole or growth may be cancerous. Detecting melanoma at an early stage is crucial and makes a significant difference. If detected early – when the cancer is on the surface of the skin – melanoma has exceptional prognosis with 5-year survival rate of 99%. The survival rate drops to 66% if the disease reaches the lymph nodes, and 27% if it has metastasized to distant organs.

In most cases, a questionable mole is usually surgically removed and sent for a biopsy so it can be examined thoroughly. If the mole is diagnosed as cancerous, and the type of melanoma is classified, the next important step is the identification of the disease stage for treatment determination. This may require additional tests such as sentinel lymph node biopsy, PET and CT scans, MRIs and blood tests. Several elements define the stage of melanoma such as how far the melanoma has grown into the skin, and if it has spread. A lower stage number means less progression of the disease.

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing melanoma. The most important risk factor is the exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation light. The sun is the main source of this light, but tanning beds and sun lamps are also potential sources. Having many moles, fair skin or freckles may also raise the risk as these individuals are more sensitive to sunlight. Racial identity may also play a role, as melanoma is about 20 times more frequent in Caucasians than Africans. The risk of developing melanoma also rises when having a weakened immune system as a result of medical treatments or conditions. Melanoma is more likely to occur in older people rather than young people, with the average age of melanoma diagnosis being 65 years old. Also, men have a higher rate of melanoma than women.

Gene mutations (changes) are also important risk factors for melanoma skin cancer. Mutations can either be acquired mutations that are caused by environmental factors, or hereditary mutations that exist in a person from birth and can be inherited from a parent. Having certain hereditary mutations raise the risk of developing melanoma. As hereditary mutations cluster in families, having a first-degree relative with melanoma may mean that more people in the family could also have a hereditary mutation that increases their risk of developing cancer. Overall, about 10% of newly diagnosed melanoma patients have a family history of the disease. The risk is greater for individuals if several members on one side of the family were diagnosed with melanoma, if a family member had more than one melanoma or had both melanoma and pancreatic cancer. In these cases, genetic testing can be beneficial as it can identify whether a mutation exists, and what risk factors could be avoided to reduce the risk of cancer developing in the future. Additionally, if an individual had a melanoma in the past, then that person has a greater risk of developing melanoma again in the future. Lastly, a rare inherited condition called Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) elevates the risk of developing melanomas and other skin cancers at a young age.

When diagnosed at an early stage, surgery is the main treatment for melanoma. If it is not diagnosed until it has progressed, treatment may include immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy. A team of healthcare providers will recommend the best treatment option for each patient depending on the stage of melanoma.

In the past decade, medicines that are targeted towards specific mutations, such as the acquired mutation in the BRAF gene, have been successfully used to slow or stop cancer cells from growing. This explains why genetic testing for identifying the mutations responsible for melanoma, whether acquired or hereditary, can be beneficial. With the help of modern technologies, scientists are now able to develop vaccines for melanoma. These are currently only given as part of clinical trials, but in the future will be a novel and effective treatment option for melanoma cancer patients. The vaccine’s design is personalized for each patient as it is based on the genetic and molecular information obtained from the skin removed through a biopsy.

There is no secure path for melanoma skin cancer prevention. Certain risk factors, like family history, cannot be controlled. For individuals who have a family history of melanoma, genetic tests for specific gene mutations associated with melanoma can determine whether someone has an increased risk of developing this disease. In that event, an informed course of action can be decided with a healthcare provider through appropriate precautions and frequent observations that may reduce the risk of cancer or help diagnose it early, when treatment is more beneficial. Awareness and prevention may reduce the risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. When spending time outdoors, limiting your exposure to UV rays is the most important way to lower the risk of developing skin cancer. This can be done by staying in the shade, wearing a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing, and by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion with SPF 30 or higher. Frequently performing self-skin checks to identify any new or abnormal moles can lead to an early diagnosis and increased chances of a successful treatment. When a change is noticed, informing a healthcare provider as soon as possible can be lifesaving. Raising awareness and educating society regarding the risk factors and warning signs of melanoma is the best tool to prevent and reduce the number of skin cancers.

PreSENTIA and ForeSENTIA cancer tests, offered by NIPD Genetics, can detect numerous genetic changes. PreSENTIA offers an extensive portfolio of 19 hereditary cancer test panels for identifying mutations with cancer susceptibility. ForeSENTIA offers an extensive portfolio of 7 cancer panels for wide coverage of genes implicated in specific cancer types. To learn more please visit www.nipd.com.

The content is intended only for educational purposes and should not be perceived as medical advice.

Compiled using information from:

-American Cancer Society. [https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer.html]

-Skin Cancer Foundation. [https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/melanoma-treatments/]

-NHS, Skin Cancer (melanoma). [https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/melanoma-skin-cancer/]

-World Cancer Research Fun, Skin cancer statistics. [https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/skin-cancer-statistics/]

-National Foundation for Cancer Research, 9 Must-Know Facts About Sunscreen. [https://www.nfcr.org/blog/9-must-know-facts-about-sunscreen/]

-National Foundation for Cancer Research, Therapeutic Vaccines Showed Long-term Anti-Cancer Effects for Melanoma. [https://www.nfcr.org/blog/therapeutic-vaccines-showed-long-term-anti-cancer-effects-for-melanoma-2021-mw/]

-National Foundation for Cancer Research, Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Be Proactive, Reduce Your Risk. [https://www.nfcr.org/blog/skin-cancer-awareness-month-be-proactive-reduce-your-risk/]

-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Melanoma of the Skin Statistics. [https://gis.cdc.gov/Cancer/USCS/DataViz.html]


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NIPD Genetics - Privacy Policy

General Statement

NIPD Genetics is a leading, innovative biotechnology company that designs, develops, and provides a broad spectrum of healthcare services to its customers through its expansive portfolio of molecular and clinical laboratory tests in all disciplines.

At NIPD Genetics we are committed to protecting and respecting our customer’s privacy and personal information. Personal information or personal data means any information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could be reasonably linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular individual, such as name, identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that individual.

NIPD Genetics collects and processes your personal information according to the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the Cypriot law providing for the protection of natural persons with regards to the processing of personal data and for the free movement of such data (L. 125(I)/2018). The following principles lie at the heart of our approach to handling personal data:

NIPD Genetics has appointed a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who is responsible for overseeing and ensuring that personal information is collected and processed in line with these principles. The contact details of the Data Protection Officer (DPO) can be found below:

Email address: dpo@nipd.com

Postal address: 31 Neas Engomis street, 2409 Engomi, Nicosia, Cyprus

Telephone number: + 357 22266888

By accessing or using our products or services, or by transmitting information to us by email or other electronic means, you accept our policies, procedures and practices described in this Privacy Policy. If you do not agree with our policies, procedures and practices as described, you can choose not to access or use our products or services or not to transmit personal information to us.

This Privacy Policy applies to NIPD Genetics facilities, its websites www.nipd.com, www.nipdlabs.com, www.nipdlabs.com.cy and their subdomains, that link to this privacy pol icy.

PERSONAL INFORMATION COLLECTION AND PROCESSING

We collect and process several types of personal information from and about users of our websites and of our products and services, including:

Information about children

If you are under 18 years of age, do not register on our website or provide any information about yourself to us. We do not provide our products or services directly to children or proactively collect their personal information. Despite this prohibition, it is possible that we may sometimes be given information about children while handling samples from our customers in our clinical labs, or through use of our products and services by our customers and partners. If we become aware that we have inadvertently collected personal information from children under the age of 18, without parental consent, we will take the necessary steps to delete it as soon as possible in compliance with applicable laws.

LEGAL BASIS FOR PROCESSING OF YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

Your personal information is collected by NIPD Genetics for the following purposes:

  1. To provide you with our products and services, respond to your inquiries or fulfill your requests and otherwise manage your relationship with us. The legal basis for processing is to meet the requirements of a contract, to comply with our legal obligations and/or because we have a legitimate interest in responding to requests for information about our products and services.
  2. To communicate with you about content and product offerings, newsletters and event invitations which are relevant to your interests and in line with your preferences. The legal basis for processing is the individual’s explicit consent prior to sending the information and managing individuals preferences.
  3. To process and respond to complaints. The legal basis for processing is to meet a legal obligation.
  4. To monitor and record information relating to the use of our products and services, including our website. The legal basis for processing is our legitimate interest in order to improve our products and services and our website for individuals.

To provide our products and services, NIPD Genetics may collect, receive and process biological samples to isolate and sequence DNA. NIPD Genetics may then store resulting genetic information and use genetic information to provide our products and services. In some cases, NIPD Genetics may provide interpretations of genetic information on behalf of its customers, including healthcare providers. This is only done pursuant to a written contract or a Sample Information Form with a patient’s informed consent and is subject to applicable legal and ethical safeguards.

This sensitive information described above is collected by NIPD Genetics for the following purposes:

  1. To provide support and maintenance services to customers who use our products and services – The legal basis for processing is to meet the requirements of a contract.
  2. To provide genotyping and sequencing services and analysis for our customers, including healthcare providers. The legal basis of this processing is to meet the requirements of a contract or as allowed in the Sample Information Form with a patient’s informed consent.
  3. To conduct genotyping and sequencing services and analysis for quality control, process and product development and improvements, and optimization in our labs to reflect quality improvements and advances in our technology. The legal basis for processing is the patient’s informed consent given through the Sample Information Form.

Transfer of Data

Your information, including personal data, may be transferred to - and maintained on - computers located outside your province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside Cyprus and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including personal data, to Cyprus and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

NIPD Genetics will take all reasonable steps necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your personal information will take place to an organization or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

Disclosure of Data

NIPD Genetics complies with the General Data Protection Regulation and will not sell or trade your personal information.

NIPD Genetics may disclose your personal information in the good faith that such action is necessary:

COOKIES AND OTHER TRACKING TECHNOLOGIES

Cookies are files with small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifiers. Cookies are sent to your browser when you visit a website and stored on your device. Tracking technologies used on the website are beacons, tags and scripts, to collect and track information and to improve and analyze our websites.

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our websites and collect certain information. This includes information about the computer or device you are using, such as Internet protocol (IP) address, information about the browser type or version, the pages of our website that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our websites.

Examples of Cookies we may use:

Session Cookies. We use Session Cookies to operate our websites.

Preference Cookies. We use Preference Cookies to remember your preferences and various settings.

Security Cookies. We use Security Cookies for security purposes.

Visitor behavior cookies. To understand how visitors use and navigate the websites

Keyword cookies. To understand how visitors discover the websites.

ANALYTICS

We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyze the use of our websites.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google uses the data collected to track and monitor the use of our service. This data is shared with other Google services. Google may use the collected data to contextualize and personalize the ads of its own advertising network.

You can opt-out of having made your activity on the Service available to Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on. The add-on prevents the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js, analytics.js, and dc.js) from sharing information with Google Analytics about visits activity.

For more information on the privacy practices of Google, please visit the Google Privacy & Terms web page

SECURITY OF DATA

We are committed to protecting the security of the information we collect, and we take reasonable physical, technical, and administrative safeguards such as data anonymization and encryption to help protect personal information from unauthorized or inappropriate access or use. It is your responsibility to protect the confidentiality of your passwords, and any other access features associated with your access or use of the website or our products and services, as well as to adhere to any applicable Terms of Use or other contract between us and you or your organization.

PERSONAL DATA RETENTION

We may retain collected information even after you remove it from the website, our Services, or our Products, to comply with applicable law, to resolve disputes, to enforce any rights in connection with the website, our Services, or our Products, and to use as provided in this Privacy Policy, the Terms of Use, or an applicable contract between us and you or your organization. How long we retain specific personal information varies depending on the purpose for its use and we may delete or retain your personal information in accordance with applicable law.

SERVICE PROVIDERS

We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate, maintain or operate our websites (“Service Providers”), to provide the websites on our behalf, to perform service-related services or to assist us in analyzing how our websites are used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.

LINKS TO OTHER SITES

Our websites may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third-party link, you will be directed to that third party's site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third-party sites or services.

CHANGES TO THIS PRIVACY POLICY

This Privacy Policy may be updated from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our website, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the bottom of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.

YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS

NIPD Genetics ensures that it can respond immediately to requests that you make for the exercise of your legal rights in accordance with data protection laws. These rights are as follows:

You also have the right to lodge a complaint at any time to the Office of the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection.

We encourage you to contact us, should you wish to practice any of your legal rights or you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, by sending an email to NIPD Genetics’ Data Protection Officer at dpo@nipd.com.

Effective date: 18/06/2021

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