The month of May has been established by the American Academy of Dermatology as National Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention Month with the goal of raising awareness of melanoma skin cancer and increasing early detection and treatment. The awareness month kicked off on May 4th, which is known as Melanoma Monday (always the first Monday of May).
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, in which cells within skin moles become malignant (usually due to ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds), with the potential to quickly spread to other parts of the body if not treated. The American Cancer Society estimates that melanoma is diagnosed in less than 5% of all skin cancers, although it is the cause of approximately 75% of all deaths related to skin cancer.
Melanoma is curable when detected and treated early, before spreading to the lymph nodes, with patients usually having a five-year survival rate of approximately 98%. If the disease goes undetected, spreads or if it recurs, the cancer can become extremely difficult to treat and the five-year survival rate falls significantly to 62% if melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes and to only 16% in individuals whose melanoma has spread to other organs.
Significant advances have been made in the last few years in the treatment of advanced melanoma, in cases where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body besides the skin. Molecular targeted therapies, immunotherapies and intralesional therapy are promising new strategies to halt the progression of advanced melanoma and prolong patient survival. One example is a new experimental drug known as PV-10 from Provectus Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., developed for injection into solid tumors (intralesional administration), that has recently completed Phase 2 trials as a therapy for advanced metastatic melanoma and is currently under evaluation on a Phase 3 trial.
Throughout the remainder of May, advocacy groups such as the American Academy of Dermatology and others will seek to get the word out about novel therapeutics such as the one being developed by Provectus Biopharmaceuticals, as well as healthy best practices for people to avoid risk factors for developing melanoma.