As one of the cancer types that we at OncoSec concentrate on, we are constantly involved in not only developing an alternative treatment for melanoma but also evaluating the public and professional knowledge base surrounding the development, prevention and awareness of the disease. As a company directly involved in the research side, we are constantly inundated with statistics and methods. However, much of the general public is still unaware of the potentially deadly consequences of melanoma. Perhaps it is due to the relatively small size of moles, an increase in survival rates or the predominance of tanning but something in our culture needs a serious shift, if we are going to collectively work towards better preventative measures.
With many myths about skin cancer out there, it can sometimes be difficult to decide what to believe or who to go to for information. One thing is for certain: cancer is not a condition to be taken lightly or to disregard, in terms of personal lifestyle. In fact, lifestyle factors are the predominant factor in contracting melanoma, as how individuals view tanning and skin protection greatly determines the risk. People assume that a simple store bought sunscreen of 15-30 SPF is going to be all they need to defend against UV rays. However, broad-spectrum sunscreen (which covers both UVA and UVB light) is what they really need, along with proper clothing choices and avoiding peak hours of sun. Likewise, the idea of the “base tan” does nothing but increase the risk factor, along with the false assumption that indoor tanning is safer. We need to do our part in both dispelling the myths, as well as raising awareness around proper sun safety and prevention.
Prevention itself will always be the most effective way of fighting cancer. Even if caught in the early stage of development, cancer has the chance of coming back, as well as surgical methods leaving behind scar tissue and other adverse effects (depending on the manner of treatment). In this slightly intense public service announcement from the Australian government, a melanoma surgeon brings to light the fact that almost 400,000 Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. As the country with the highest skin cancer rates in the world, the government has been proactive in their attempts to raise awareness. Even as a surgeon, the doctor’s foremost recommendation is prevention, over everything else. This really drives the point home: lower your risk outdoors, in order to avoid ending up in the operating room.
Having melanoma rates as high as they are, it is important for treatment methods to become less invasive, without lowering their success. Once melanoma has metastasized (spread to remote areas of the body), traditional treatment options entail intense chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This can really take its toll on the human body. The field of immunotherapy attempts to take a more patient-friendly approach, by utilizing your immune system in the fight against disease. As we’ve mentioned on the blog before, the benefits of immunotherapy methods could greatly increase both the success rate of late-stage treatment as well as the quality of life for patients. OncoSec’s ImmunoPulse aims to do just that; having the body’s own macrophages and T-cells seek out and eliminate foreign organisms and emerging cancer cells. We are currently conducting trials for this technology and welcome any patients diagnosed with metastatic melanoma to review our clinical trials page.
If you would like to help OncoSec raise awareness and encourage prevention methods, please join us on Facebook and Twitter. Every individual that gets involved in cancer prevention can make a huge difference in the lives of others.