Imagine visiting the dermatologist with concerns about a strange growth on your arm. You breathe a sigh of relief when your doctor tells you that the spot is an actinic keratosis (AK), meaning it isn’t malignant…for now. It may stay benign, but it could also turn into a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer.
Each year, we award several grants to dermatology residents, fellows and young faculty to fund research and clinical studies related to skin cancer. This year, the Todd Nagel Memorial Award was given to Dr. William Damsky, researcher at Yale University, for his study “Elucidating and Overcoming Mechanisms of Immunotherapy Resistance in Melanoma.”
With the recent FDA approval of the drug nivolumab (Opdivo®, previously approved for stage IV melanoma) as a treatment for stage III melanoma, we have reached the next important phase in the immunotherapy revolution. It is a revolution that most of the world’s top experts believe will one day, very possibly within a decade, turn advanced (stages III and IV) melanoma into a chronic, or even curable, disease rather than a deadly one.
You might already know that catching a cancer early means a more favorable prognosis. But it can be difficult to comprehend just how big a difference early detection makes with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Melanoma should never be underestimated, but treating a tumor early rather than after it is allowed to progress could be lifesaving.
My father was diagnosed with a small squamous cell carcinoma on his ear. He says it’s nothing and refuses to go back and have it removed. What can I do to convince him he’ll be better off with treatment?
Since doctors first began treating skin cancer, their techniques for removing tumors have evolved rapidly. There have been many valuable improvements over the years, but Mohs micrographic surgery has truly stood the test of time — it’s come to be accepted as the gold standard for removing the two most common forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.