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

This Privacy Policy applies only to www.nipd.com and its subdomains (hereafter collectively referred to as “Sites") that link to this policy. NIPD Genetics Sites are owned by NIPD Genetics Public Company Ltd and are operated by NIPD Genetics Public Company Ltd and on occasion by a third-party that is responsible for the technical maintenance of the Sites.

If, you do not agree with this Privacy Policy, please do not access or use any of NIPD Genetics Sites.

NIPD Genetics values your interest in NIPD Genetics, its products and its services. NIPD Genetics takes the protection of your data seriously.

Personal data for purposes of this Privacy Policy, is any information by which you can be individually identified, including, but not limited to, your name, profession, address, e-mail address, and telephone number.

You may contact NIPD Genetics Public Company Ltd at
NIPD Genetics Public Company Ltd
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NIPD Genetics Data Protection Officer can be reached at dpo@nipd.com

This Privacy Policy applies only to the Sites as defined above and which are operated by NIPD Genetics. The NIPD Genetics Privacy Policy seeks to inform the users of its Sites of the following:

NIPD Genetics will not use or share your information with anyone, except as described in this Privacy Policy. This Privacy Policy does not apply to any information we might collect by other digital and offline means and or from other digital and offline sources. The use of information collected through our Sites shall be limited to the purposes under this Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use to customers.

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data when you use our Sites and the choices you have associated with that data.

We use your data to provide and improve the Sites. By using the Sites, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms and Conditions, accessible from www.nipd.com

Type of personal information NIPD Genetics may collect through its Sites

Information Collection And Use

We collect several different types of information for various purposes to provide and improve our Sites and services to you.

Personal Data

While using NIPD Genetics Sites, you may be asked to provide NIPD Genetics certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you ("Personal Information"). Personal Information that might be used to identify you includes, but is not limited to:

If you send us a query via our Contact us form, your email address, the content and any follow up emails are retained indefinitely.

Cookies and Usage Data

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We may also collect information how the Sites are accessed and used ("Usage Data"). This Usage Data may include information such as your computer's Internet Protocol address (e.g. IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our Sites that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

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We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our Sites and hold certain information.

Cookies are files with small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a website and stored on your device. Tracking technologies also used are beacons, tags, and scripts to collect and track information and to improve and analyze our Sites.

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 Sites.

Examples of Cookies we use:

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www.nipd.com uses the collected data for various purposes:

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Your information, including personal data, may be transferred to — and maintained on — computers located outside of 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.

www.nipd.com 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 data 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.

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NIPD Genetics complies with the protection of personal data regulation and will not sale or trade your personal data.

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

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The security of your data is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Data, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

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We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate, maintain or operate our Sites ("Service Providers"), to provide the SItes on our behalf, to perform service-related services or to assist us in analyzing how our Sites is 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.

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

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

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You have the right to review, update or delete any of your personal data by sending a request at NIPD Genetics Personal Data Officer pdo@nipd.com

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Our Sites 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.

Children's Privacy

Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 ("Children").

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Children has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes to This Privacy Policy

We may update our Privacy Policy 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 Service, prior to the change becoming effective and update the "effective date" at the top 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.

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If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact pdo@nipd.com

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