Vaccine Therapy May Reduce Effects of Skin Cancer

skin-cancerThe Mayo Clinic reports that current melanoma treatment options include radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy and experimental therapies.  However, there may soon be another option for those diagnosed with severe cases of skin cancer.

Doctors have been working on a vaccine that could treat advanced stages of melanoma and reduce the risk of fatal forms of skin cancer.  Sanofi-Aventis is conducting the study for this vaccine at 25 testing centers in the United States and Canada; the vaccine is designed to stimulate the body's immune system to protect the skin cells and reduce further development of existing cancer.

In late 2008, Professor Ian Frazer of the University of Queensland delivered several findings of a vaccine he had developed to the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress. In the trials and studies, the vaccine effectively switched off the 'killer T cells' and the treatment was deemed a promising venture for the future. Researchers expected that this particular vaccine may be available within a 5-year time period. (Source: UK Telegraph)

Skin cancer continues to be one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States, and dermatologists encourage people of all skin types to take a proactive approach to reduce their risk.  While wearing sunscreen and steering clear of high-sun times can help, thousands of people are still diagnosed with potentially-dangerous melanoma each year. Some people are genetically susceptible to melanoma, but many cases of skin cancer go undetected until the melanoma has reached its advanced stages.

People with early stages of melanoma can undergo surgery to have the skin removed, but treatment decisions are only made after a thorough consultation.

If the vaccine is approved for use in the United States, doctors may soon be able to administer a simple injection to eliminate the deadly virus, helping patients build up enough resistance to fight the cancer on their own. Still, dermatologists advise all individuals to practice safe sunning habits in order to reduce their risk of developing cancer in the first place.

Further Reading

  • Up until now, dermatologists have been trying a variety of different skin removal techniques to get rid of precancerous skin lesions.

  • Topical agents, diet and certain medicines presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Summer Academy Meeting 2010 in Chicago is showing promise for preventing UV-induced skin cancer. Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, and dermatologists are now encouraging the public to be conscientious about the amount of sun they are exposed to, and taking extra steps to use broad-spectrum sunscreen on a regular basis.

  • Individuals with a rare skin disease called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) can improve their condition with the transfer of bone marrow stem cells. A team of medical researchers has found that bone marrow stem cells can effectively treat the disease and help to repair the skin and speed up the healing process. This skin disease cannot be treated with conventional dermatology procedures.