Tuesday, July 11, 2023

New study finds skin cancer is more deadly in black men, Washington Post story declares

Melanoma is more deadly in black men, who may get skin cancer in unexpected places such as nails and feet, a new study says.

According to a story today by Andrea Atkins in The Washington Post, the study of 105,000 cases show black men are "26 percent more likely to die of the disease" — despite the fact that melanoma is "far more common in white men."

It has long been known, not incidentally, that men have a higher risk of being diagnosed and succumbing to the disease than women do.

Dr. Ali Hendi
The Post story quotes Dr. Ali Hendi, a specialist in skin cancer surgery in Chevy Chase, Md., who didn't participate in the study, as saying, "I think [the findings are] significant. This study doesn't give us the answer as to why, but it sheds light on the numbers." 

Atkins' article notes that the study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that:

• "Among black men with melanoma, 48.6 percent at diagnosed at late stages of the disease, when it is harder to treat, compared with 21.1 percent among white men."

• "The data showed that 50.7 of black men with melanoma have it on their lower extremities. Fewer than 10 percent of white men with the disease have it on their lower extremities."

• "Melanoma in black men is often found in areas not typically exposed to the sun, such as the soles of the feet, toes, toenails, fingers, fingernail beds, and palms."

The Post piece also quotes Dr. Jeremy Brauer, clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, who was not connected with the study, as saying that physicians are often trained to identify cancers on white skin and may not know how the disease shows up differently in different races. "This disproportionate and unfortunate rate of death means we have to try to be much more preventative," he said. 

More information about studies of diseases can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Dr. Susan Love, author of lay readers' Bible about breast cancer, dies of leukemia at age 75

The author of the best-selling volume, Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, that became in effect a Bible for breast cancer patients three decades ago, died Sunday at her home in Los Angeles of leukemia at age 75.

Dr. Susan Love
Love was a surgeon, researcher, and activist. She was the founder of an advocacy group, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, in 1991, and was the chief visionary officer of the Dr. Susan Love Foundation, a nonprofit that conducts and finances research into the disease.

The oncologist's book aimed at lay readers, now in its sixth edition, has sold nearly 500,000 copies. A seventh edition is scheduled to be published in a few months.

According to a story by Margarlit Fox in Monday editions of The New York Times, she had "ignited controversy with her less-than-enthusiastic appraisal of hormone replacement therapy, routinely recommended [in the 1990s] to treat menopausal symptoms. Her position was vindicated some years later, when the therapy was found to increase the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and strokes." 

She was gay and, the Times piece indicates, "chose to come out of the closet at a time when being openly gay carried grave professional and personal risks. She felt an obligation to do so, she said, so she could serve as a role model for others."

More information about the disease can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Next big advance may be new cancer vaccines that could treat cancers in a variety of organs

Research may be turning a corner, with many scientists predicting new cancer vaccines that would work within five years on breast, lung, ovarian, skin, and pancreatic cancers.

According to a recent Associated Press story by Carla K. Johnson, "these aren't traditional vaccines that prevent disease, but shots to shrink tumors and stop cancer from coming back." 

Dr. James L. Gulley
The article quotes Dr. James L. Gulley, who helps lead the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute that developed immune therapies, including cancer treatment vaccines. He says, "We're getting something to work. Now we need to get it to work better."

Cancer vaccines, like other immunotherapies, boost the immune system to find and kill cancer cells. For a vaccine to work, the piece quotes Dr. Nora Disis of UW Medicine's Cancer Vaccine Institute in Seattle as saying, it needs to teach the immune system's T cells to recognize cancer as dangerous. "If you saw an activated T cell, it almost has feet. You can see it crawling through a blood vessel to get out into the tissues," she said.

Dr. Steve Lipkin, a medical geneticist at New York's Weill Cornell Medicine, also is quoted: "Vaccines are probably the next big thing. We're dedicating our lives to that."

More information about vaccines can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.