Every hour, someone dies of melanoma. That number could be changed dramatically if the cancer is caught earlier. Early skin cancer does not have the ability to spread through the body! Even though the cells multiply, the cancer can’t invade other layers of skin. Only over time do genetic changes occur enabling it to spread. This is precisely why early detection is so vital.
Early detection is something Dr. Shore has been advocating for a quarter of a century. At his dermatology practice, he has persuaded high risk patients to come in for check-ups every six months. The results? In over 25 years, not one person in the program has died from skin cancer or even had a close call:
The Skin Check Program – 1992 to Present
Over 20,000 skin examinations performed
Over 3,000 skin cancers detected
Over 100 melanomas detected
But No Deaths from any Skin Cancer
Details of his program have been published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: Drugs-Devices-Methods. 2011;10(3):244-252) and reported at major dermatology meetings. This article (in PDF) is provided with compliments by the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (JDD).
Full skin examinations, if performed in a serial manner, ideally every 6 to 12 months, by dermatologists or other medical personnel who have been specifically trained for this procedure, can result in cures of skin cancer in almost all cases.
We recommend such examinations for individuals with a history of significant past sun or ultraviolet light exposure (e.g. tanning salons), particularly if there have been severe or blistering sunburns at any time in the past, since this predisposes to melanoma in particular. In addition, we recommend these examinations for individuals with the following additional risk factors:
- Fair skin types
- Red or blond hair
- Atypical moles
- Numerous moles
- Past history of any skin cancer
- Family history of melanoma
Although not widely known by the public at this time, light skinned men over 50 are particularly at risk for both developing and dying of melanoma. We highly recommend that such individuals, particularly those with a history of multiple and/or severe sunburns, participate in serial screening programs. Doing so could be life-saving.
PAULA’s Test for Lung Cancer
Each year, 160,000 Americans die of lung cancer. Paula Shore was among them. Though she smoked early in life, she had been cigarette-free for over 22 years when she was diagnosed. In fact, she had adopted a healthy lifestyle and undergone the screening tests appropriate for her gender and age. Unfortunately, she still contracted lung cancer, and by the time it was discovered, it showed up as a metastasis of her skin, and there were no treatments available that could save her. Back then, the blood tests available simply were not able to detect her cancer early when surgery could have saved her life.
Today, there is an early detection test that can identify lung cancer even when no symptoms are present! The test was developed by 20/20 GeneSystems, Inc. in Rockville MD, and is known as the PAULA’s Test. The name serves both as an acronym indicating the nature of the test (i.e. Protein Assays Using Lung Cancer Analytes), and to honor one of the Foundation’s namesakes, Paula Shore. Individuals or physicians interested in having the test may obtain additional information at www.paulastest.com
If PAULA’s Test were performed annually on patients who present a high risk for contracting lung cancer, it is likely that not only would cancer be detected early, but the chances for survival would be much more favorable.
Although lung cancer has not received as much attention as several other cancers, the sad fact is it causes more deaths than the next three most common cancers combined. Smoking is the most common cause. Former smokers remain at increased (but slowly decreasing) risk for several decades after they quit.
In the United States, where many individuals have stopped smoking, the largest group of persons now developing lung cancer are former smokers. We highly recommend the PAULA’s Test yearly for former smokers as well as current smokers. Individuals over the age of 50 with a history of 20 pack-years or more are particularly vulnerable.
Lung cancer may occur as a result of secondhand smoke and pollution, particularly in parts of the world where significant indoor and outdoor pollution exist. In the United States, it has been estimated that 20% of women who develop lung cancer never smoked.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force has recently recommended Spiral CT scanning for certain persons at high risk of lung cancer. There is not yet sufficient data for the task force to issue a statement on the PAULA’s Test. In theory, however, there could be multiple advantages to the PAULA’s Test if preliminary results are confirmed with additional experience. These include reduced exposure to radiation, greater availability of the test, far fewer false positive results, and potentially earlier detection of lung cancer which could result in greater survival. It has previously been demonstrated that blood test markers have detected evidence of lung cancer before it was evident on x-ray studies.