What Do the Latest Melanoma Studies Reveal?

It is a fact that melanoma is the deadliest of skin cancers. Furthermore, the rate of this type of skin cancer has doubled over the course of the last two decades. Another disturbing fact is that it is becoming ever more common in young adults and in children as well. In this situation, many research institutes and treatment centres carry out studies which are intended to identify the precise causes of this condition and to produce a cure. Learn more about some of their latest findings.

Different Causes

It is known that melanoma typically occurs in skin cells which have been damaged by UV rays. However, the precise way in which ultraviolet light works to cause cellular damage is not known. In recent times, researchers have made great progress in this field. The latest studies show that the UV rays work to cause cellular damage leading to this type of skin cancer in two different ways.

One of the ways in which UV rays can cause this condition is through damage of skin cells during childhood leading to sunburn. Even though the tumour develops many years later, it is this initial change in the cellular DNA which has triggered it. The other way in which the condition can be caused is through regular exposure to UV radiation during adulthood. This can still lead to tumour formation even without the presence of sunburn.

Advanced Combination Treatment

A recent study which involved 500 melanoma patients from 20 different countries has revealed that combining two separate drugs for the treatment of this condition can produce more effective results. The two medications attacked the tumours in two different ways. The combined therapy helped to extend the period during which the growth of the tumours was inhibited from 6 to 9 months and even 10 months in some cases. In 10% of the patients, the existing tumours were completely eliminated.

Melanoma Vaccine Development

The vaccine is intended to be used for the treatment of this type of skin cancer and not for its prevention. Still, it works in the same way as ordinary vaccines designed to prevent virus infections. It contains weakened melanoma cells or specific compounds which are present in such sells. They are purposefully injected in the body in order to trigger an immune response. If this happens, the body’s immune system will work to destroy the abnormal cells. Previously made vaccines have not been greatly effective, but the scientists are working on making more advanced ones.

Hopefully, melanoma research will produce a cure for this condition soon.

Tips To Prevent Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Skin cancer is a very commonly known form of cancer, affecting millions of people all across the globe. Melanoma, Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma are the basic three types of skin cancer affecting people. However, this is the most widely diagnosed form of skin cancer which can be easily prevented if we take good care of our skin. The cancer hardly causes other health problems if it is diagnosed and treated rightly. But, if left untreated, it may also spread to all other parts of the body and hence, lead to fatal health conditions.

Cause of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma is mainly a result of prolonged exposure of our skin to the harmful ultraviolet radiations from either the sun or the tanning beds. Protecting your skin from UV light is the best way to protect your skin from all types of skin cancer. Follow the below mentioned tips carefully and prevent the development of the cancer on your skin.

  • Learn why the cancer form develops – The best way to prevent any health condition is by learning all the details about it. Squamous Cell Carcinoma develops due to high exposure to sunlight or the tanning beds or tanning lamps. Now that you know the basic cause of the skin cancer, you can avoid exposure to sunlight or the other harmful radiations.
  • Protect and care your skin – Always use sunscreen lotions on your skin before you go out in the sun. Apply sun-blocks even during cloudy days. Use a strong sun protection lotion with at least 15 SPF. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before you go out.
  • Avoid high exposure to sun and harmful radiations – Avoid going out during the peak times, when the sunlight is strongest. Wear clothes that protect your skin from the radiations and harsh sunlight. If the UV rays penetrate deep into the skin, they can lead to cancerous lesions which may increase with more exposure.
  • Learn about the Squamous Cell Carcinoma symptoms – The symptoms of the skin cancer can occur any place on your body, inside your mouth, on your genitals or even your anus. The symptoms include:
    • Firm red nodules on your lower lip, hands, neck, ears, arms, etc.
    • Flat scaly crusted lesion on hands, arms, ears and neck.
    • Pre-existing scar gets more ulcerated
    • Red patch occurs on your genitals or anus
    • White patch formation in your mouth.
  • Consult your dermatologist and get regular checkups – And finally, always consult your dermatologist for any doubt. Diagnosis at the right time will help you save your life and live healthy.

So, take good care of your skin and prevent the formation of Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Remember, Prevention is always better than Cure.

Silymarin As an Anti-Inflammatory and Inhibitor of UV-Induced Skin Damage

It is a well-known fact of life that exposure to UV light, especially the UVA component, festers skin disorders like melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Superficial remedies such as sunscreens are effective only to a limited extent. This realization has led to investigation of new methods to protect the skin from photo-damaging effects of solar UV radiation, or “photo-carcinogenesis” as it is called. Recent years have seen considerable interest in identifying naturally-occurring botanicals, such as silymarin, with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and which exhibit anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic functionality.

It is in this light that the medicinal benefits of milk thistle have been a subject of intense research by scientists. Though its value as a medicine for a host of health conditions, including dermatological, has been known for over 2,000 years, it is only now that science has seriously begun looking at the role played by milk thistle and “Silymarin”, its active compound, in treating skin damage.

In an experiment conducted at Palacky University in Czechoslovakia (1), researchers studied the impact of two components of Silybum marianum (technical name for milk thistle) as both a preventative as well as treatment intervention for skin damage against UVA exposure. Their findings were positive, in that it was discovered that these two components – collectively known as “flavonolignans” – perform a host of functions, such as increasing the viability of keratinocytes in irradiated cells, inhibiting the production of ROS, stopping further depletion of ATP and GSH taking place at intracellular level, and halting the peroxidation of membrane lipids. Further, the activation of caspases-3 process that UVA exposure initiates gets halted and reversed when the two components of Silybum marianum are applied. The overall picture that emerges, therefore, is that Silybum marianum is a good candidate to be considered for inhibiting UV damage.

An interesting experiment conducted on mice at the University of Alabama in Birmingham has been reported in the March-April 2008 issue of Photochem Photobiology journal (2). Two observations from this research are of special relevance to us here. One, it is the CD11b+ cells, which are the major source of oxidative stress in UV-irradiated skin, were inhibited by Silymarin. The flavonoid also suppresses the infiltration of leukocytes that UV exposure had induced. The second important observation is that Silymarin not only halts UV damage, it also acts as a preventive measure. Another researcher has gone one step ahead with the identification of yet another reversal that this chemical performs to UV action: it reduces the volume of H2O2-producing and cytokine interleukin-10 producing cells, both of whose generation is activated by UV (6).

Nearly the same conclusion has been arrived at by researchers working in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado (3). Their research has shown a positive effect of Silibinin on the repair of UVB-induced DNA damage. Another experiment conducted at the Department of Dermatology of the University of Alabama has observed the inhibition affect that the flavonoid has on tumor promoters such as 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate, mezerein, benzoyal peroxide and okadaic acid (4).

Topical application of Silibinin prior to, or immediately after, UV irradiation has been found to inhibit thymine dimer positive cell generation that UV induces in the epidermis (5). This research has also shown that terminal sunburn cell formation that is again induced by UV is inhibited too, when Silibinin is applied.

A strong case for Silymarin being a very effective agent in inhibiting and reversing carcinogen and tumor-promoter-induced cancers is made by two independent researches. In both the experiments (7), (8), it has been reported that Silibinin inhibits cancer-causing cells (ERK1/2 activation) and promotes benign cells (JNK1/2, p38), making it an effective cancer-intervention agent for cancer.

A paper published in the journal “Cancer Research” details yet another in-depth investigation carried out on the efficacy of Silymarin as a possible intervention agent against Stage I and Stage II tumors (9). The paper reports that the milk thistle extract has been found to be especially useful in Stage I tumor suppression, and inhibits edema, hyperplasia, proliferation index and oxidant state which take place due to UV irradiation. This same result has been arrived by an independent group of researchers, who used a different chemical to induce skin edema in mice (10).

From the above researches being conducted around the world, it may safely be concluded that Silymarin is proving to be very effective in inhibiting UV-induced skin damage, and the day may not be far when milk thistle becomes one of the major ingredients in sunscreen lotions.


Svobodová A, Zdarilová A, Walterová D, and Vostálová J. Flavonolignans from Silybum marianum moderate UVA-induced oxidative damage to HaCaT keratinocytes. J Dermatol Sci. 2007 Dec;48(3):213-24. Epub 2007 Aug 3.

Katiyar SK, Meleth S, and Sharma SD. Silymarin, a flavonoid from milk thistle (Silybum marianum L.) inhibits UV-induced oxidative stress through targeting infiltrating CD11b+ cells in mouse skin. Photochem Photobiol. 2008 Mar-Apr;84(2):266-71. Epub 2007 Nov 28.

Singh RP, and Agarwal R. Mechanisms and preclinical efficacy of silibinin in preventing skin cancer. Eur J Cancer. 2005 Sep;41(13):1969-79.

Katiyar SK. Silymarin and skin cancer prevention: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects. Int J Oncol. 2005 Jan;26(1):169-76.

Dhanalakshmi S, Mallikarjuna GU, Singh RP, and Agarwal R. Silibinin prevents ultraviolet radiation-caused skin damages in SKH-1 hairless mice via a decrease in thymine dimer positive cells and an up-regulation of p53-p21/Cip1 in epidermis. Carcinogenesis. 2004 Aug;25(8):1459-65. Epub 2004 Mar 19.

Katiyar SK. Treatment of Silymarin, a plant flavonoid, prevents ultraviolet light-induced immune suppression and oxidative stress in mouse skin. Int J Oncol. 2002 Dec;21(6):1213-22.

Singh RP, Tyagi AK, Zhao J, and Agarwal R. Silymarin inhibits growth and causes regression of established skin tumors in SENCAR mice via modulation of mitogen-activated protein kinases and induction of apoptosis. Carcinogenesis. 2002 Mar;23(3):499-510.

Jifu Zhao, Moushumi Lahiri-Chatterjee, Yogesh Sharma and Rajesh Agarwal. Inhibitory effect of a flavonoid antioxidant Silymarin on benzoyl peroxide-induced tumor promotion, oxidative stress and inflammatory responses in SENCAR mouse skin. Carcinogenesis, Vol. 21, No. 4, 811-816, April 2000.

Lahiri-Chatterjee M, Katiyar SK, Mohan RR, and Agarwal R. A flavonoid antioxidant, Silymarin, affords exceptionally high protection against tumor promotion in the SENCAR mouse skin tumorigenesis model. Cancer Res. 1999 Feb 1;59(3):622-32.

Zhao J, Sharma Y, and Agarwal R. Significant inhibition by the flavonoid antioxidant Silymarin against 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate-caused modulation of antioxidant and inflammatory enzymes, and cyclo-oxygenase-2 and interleukin-1-alpha expression in SENCAR mouse epidermis: implications in the prevention of Stage I tumor production. Mol Carcinog. 1999 Dec;26(4):321-33.