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Canadian Cancer Society Statistics 2023

From everyone at the Save Your Skin Foundation team, we hope you had a wonderful holiday and new year with your loved ones. The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) released their 2023 statistics document in November, and to ring in the new year we would like to recap some of their findings. While some of these findings are daunting, we still continue to see decreasing mortality rates for melanoma. This demonstrates that access for Canadians to innovative treatments, including clinical trials, means that fewer Canadians are losing their lives to melanoma.

Please note that the CCS did their last full review of statistics in 2021. This means that the following statistics have not been updated since then, as melanoma was not included in the 2023 updates.

  • The rate of melanoma skin cancer diagnoses is still increasing although this is a largely preventable cancer (11)
  • Melanoma represented 4.5% of cancers diagnosed in male-identifying people and 3.6% of female-identifying people in 2023 (13)
  • Melanoma was the fourth diagnosed cancer in Canadians aged 30-49 years (15)
  • The largest age-standardized incidence rate increase since 1984 has been melanoma in males, at a steady rate of 2.2% per year (19)
  • Higher incidence rates of incidence and mortality have been observed in coastal provinces, such as British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island (22)
  • The lifetime probably of a Canadian developing melanoma is 2.3% (26)
  • In 2023, 1.8% of male-identifying Canadians died of melanoma, as did 1.1% of those who were female-identifying (37)
  • The mortality rate for melanoma continues to decline in Canada, by -2.6% per year in male-identifying people since 2013 and -3% per year in female-identifying people since 2014 (46, 43)
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CURE OM Global Science Meeting Recap

Creating a Shared Vision of Progress and Hope

Date of the meeting: November 6, 2023

Hosted by the Melanoma Research Foundation

The recent Cure OM Global Science Meeting held in Philadelphia aimed to foster a shared vision of progress and hope in the fight against ocular/uveal melanoma. The event brought together researchers, clinicians, industry partners, and patients to discuss advancements, clinical trials, and collaborative efforts. The mission, as emphasized by the Melanoma Research Foundation, is to eradicate melanoma through accelerated research, education, and advocacy.

This blog article summarizes some of the meeting’s highlights.

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Highlights

Dramatic Evolution in Research Landscape

  • Reflecting on the past decade, participants noted a significant shift in the ocular melanoma research landscape.
  • In 2013, industry partners didn’t participate actively in the discussion and the focus was on understanding the unique characteristics of uveal melanoma, distinct from cutaneous melanoma.
  • In 2023, the meeting showcased substantial progress with seven industry partners actively engaging in discussions, covering primary eye treatment, genetic prognostics, metastatic disease treatments and adjuvant and neo-adjuvant therapies.

Industry Partner Presentations

Aura provided updates on AU-011 (Bel-Sar), a virus-like particle conjugated with a light activated cytotoxin which aims to kill the tumor. It is either injected suprachoroidally or intravitreally and is light-activated. They presented some positive data showing the safety and efficacy giving us hope that perhaps this could be a new primary treatment that could treat primary uveal melanoma while sparing patients from dealing with the fallout from radiation-induced retinopathy. Bel-Sar will hopefully be moving into a phase three clinical trial.

Delcath discussed Hepzato, a recently FDA-approved liver-directed therapy which is set to be commercially available in early 2024.

Ideaya reported promising data in the Phase 1/2 trial of darovasertib and crizotinib, with pivotal trials now open at multiple sites in the US and abroad. Neoadjuvant and adjuvant trials will also be opening worldwide.

Immunocore presented on tebentafusp or Kimmtrak, the first FDA approved therapy for metastatic uveal melanoma. It is now widely available in the US and abroad. And there are some ongoing trials looking at other targets.

Replimune is looking to open a clinical trial in the uveal melanoma space. They are working on an intralesional (direct injection into the tumor) modified virus. It is a herpes virus that is modified with something called GM-CSF and other immune tweaks to help the immune system recognize the cancer. In a trial, metastatic uveal melanoma patients were given either just this injection or the injection in combination with nivolumab and the response rates were upwards of 28.6% with a disease control rate of 57.1%. There is hope that this clinical trial will be available to patients soon.

TriSalus presented on the ongoing Perio-1 clinical trial. This is an intra-hepatic artery delivery of an immune stimulant via a special catheter in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors that are given peripherally.

Discussion Points

A key emphasis was placed on the growing interest and involvement of various companies in developing treatments for ocular/uveal melanoma. While this is a positive trend, speakers highlighted the need for collaboration to avoid competition between trials and ensure inclusivity. Physicians don’t want patients to feel that if they start one clinical trial, they won’t be able to go on another. Suggestions included making inclusion and exclusion criteria less restrictive, ensuring trials are accessible across different regions and supporting patients so that lack of access to clinical trials is not a reason to not participate.

Liver-Directed Therapy – Pros and Cons

The discussion then turned to liver-directed therapy, a crucial treatment approach for uveal melanoma. Dr. Orloff underscored the importance of understanding the pros and cons of liver-directed therapy, systemic therapy, and combination therapy. These considerations are crucial for patients facing decisions about the most suitable treatment path.

1. Liver-Directed Therapy:
  • In MUM, liver metastases are leading cause of death
  • Various liver directed treatments can be very effective at controlling hepatic metastases
  • Often well tolerated with limited side effects experienced between treatments
  • Some patients only require limited treatments with long treatment free intervals
  • Not restricted to any one population
  • Have one FDA approved LDT option (PHP)
  • MUM by definition is a systemic disease and extrahepatic disease can develop and lead to morbidity and rarely mortality
  • Requires institutional expertise
  • Patients may need to travel further for treatment
  • Some liver directed treatments require more extensive resources
  • Limited randomized trial data (comparing LDT or to systemic treatments)
2. Systemic Therapy:
  • Treatment of systemic disease (treats the whole body)
  • Tebentafusp is available and has an overall survival benefit and good side effect profile
  • Darovasertib + Crizotinib is also an option with a decent objective response rate (ORR) and disease control rate (DCR)
  • Tebentafusp is HLA restricted
  • It needs to be injected weekly
  • It has a low response rate and has a high rate of immune-related adverse event
  • It may not shrink tumours up-front
  • Often systemic trials are restricted to line of therapy
3. Combination Therapy:
  • Potential to control both hepatic and systemic metastasis
  • Opportunities for debulking tumors before systemic therapy
  • Synergy of liver directed treatment and systemic treatment especially when using systemic immunotherapy
  • Optimal combinations and sequences are unknown
  • Toxicities of both therapies need to be managed

Data Highlights and Proposed Studies

TriSalus

TriSalus presented data as a late-breaking abstract at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) annual meeting. They are investigating their special catheter that allows infusion of SD-101 infusion in combination with immunotherapy. There have been multiple cohorts, and the results so far show a 58% disease control rate (DCR) across all SD-101 doses and an 81% DCR at two milligrams. Optimizing dosage is a focus, as higher doses may not necessarily be more effective. Preliminary overall survival signals are encouraging.

Percutaneous Hepatic Perfusion (PHP)

PHP is a catheter system facilitating closed-circuit liver perfusion with melphalan. Results from the focus trial, presented in 2022 at ASCO, demonstrated significant improvements in overall response and disease control compared to alternative care arms. Side effects, primarily related to bone marrow suppression, were noted.

Combination Trial Designs

Ongoing trials show promise in combining hepatic perfusion with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

  • The Scandium II trial compared hepatic perfusion (IHP) followed by immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI), with ICI followed by IHP followed by more ICI. The Scandium III trial compared ICI alone with PHP followed by ICI.
  • Another trial presented by Dr. Orloff explored combining tebentafusp with liver-directed therapy. For lower volume disease, the design involves administering tebentafusp upfront, followed by liver-directed therapy. For higher volume disease, the design involves chemoembolization first, followed by tebentafusp.

Adjuvant and Neo-Adjuvant Clinical Trials

Three new trials will be opening soon in the adjuvant/neo-adjuvant space:

  • Quizinostat (University of Miami)
  • Neoadjuvant/Adjuvant Darovasertib
  • ATOM: Adjuvant Tebentafusp Ocular Melanoma

Tebentafusp in Practice

Dr. Butler, Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Seedor all presented on tebentafusp in practice. Tebentafusp is a bispecific molecule that brings T-cells to the tumour and have been showed to offer significant survival benefits. The challenge lies in translating clinical trial success to real-world scenarios, where patients might have more advanced disease.

Dr. Seedor shared case vignettes featuring patients with a substantial disease burden. These patients showed potential benefits from tebentafusp but Dr. Seedor suggested that stabilizing patients before initiating tebentafusp might be necessary for optimal outcomes.

Dr. Butler presented on the situation in Canada, where initial access to the drug was previously restricted to two centres, but has now expanded nationwide, enabling a diverse group of patients to undergo tebentafusp treatment. In a real-world grouping of patients, it was observed that stabilization or positive responses to tebentafusp were linked to improved outcomes, aligning with findings from clinical trials and showing that a variety of patients are experiencing benefits from tebentafusp.

Dr. Sullivan presented innovative data addressing the challenge of assessing tebentafusp’s impact on cancer. While the drug may not necessarily shrink tumours, it slows down their growth. Traditionally, oncologists rely on tumour shrinkage to gauge treatment efficacy. Dr. Sullivan discussed findings suggesting that even in cases of disease progression on imaging, a decrease in circulating tumour DNA correlates with a more favourable response to therapy. However, the specific assay used in the study isn’t commercially available. Dr. Sullivan found that there are several ways to analyze circulating tumour DNA and cells in the blood fraction and that one of them might be better suited to patients with uveal melanoma, suggesting that even patients who are on standard of care treatment may benefit from clinical trials that use this biomarker as a way to follow patients.

Systemic Therapies Highlights

Several presentations focused on systemic therapies.

Dr. Moser shared insights into emerging therapies:

  • Roginolisib – PI3Kδ inhibitors are showing promising results in patients and in animals
  • Radioligand therapy – A novel approach to targeting tumors using a molecule that brings radiation particles directly to the tumour to target tumour cells.
  • TCR Therapy – Promising trials are trying to target tumors with cell therapies. There are actually several different studies looking at TCR based therapies, CAR T-cell based therapies as well as tumor infiltrating lymphocyte therapies are being studied across the world to determine the best approach for patients.

Dr. Hamid explored byspecific antibodies in OM:

  • He highlighted the three-year survival rate for tebentafusp, which showed a consistent benefit in terms of overall survival. Unfortunately, not enough patients are doing really well five years later, but certainly, they’re doing better than they were on the investigator’s choice protocol.
  • Immunocore has a new agent called F106C that targets PRAME, which is an antigen expressed highly in uveal melanoma but also in other types of cancers. They’ve seen a high percentage of response in patients with uveal melanoma as well as skin tumours. And there are several follow up trials beyond the initial phase one to look at the role of this study in patients with uveal melanoma, cutaneous melanoma, as well as other tumours in the future.
  • Various different types of immune cells are being investigated for cancer treatment:
    • Lymphocyte cells that are allogeneic (cells that come from one person and are used in another person to fight the cancer)
    • CAR T-cell
    • Bispecific agents brought into a cell and infused as a therapy
    • Human mesenchymal stromal cells

Dr. Butler presented on Protein Kinase C Inhibition. He covered the promising results of darovasertib in combination with crizotinib for uveal melanoma, presenting a high response rate, even in patients with significant disease burdens. The phase one study, having transitioned to phase two/phase three, is now comparing darovasertib and crizotinib to immunotherapy or investigator choice in the first-line setting. The study aims to provide insights into the therapy’s duration, side effects, and optimal administration strategies across multiple centres. However, challenges remain, such as determining the sequencing of therapies, determining which patients should get the drug right away and which patients should be treated later on, and engaging with pharmaceutical companies to ensure patients have access to various treatment lines.

Dr. Khan reviewed data on immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors, pointing out that, while there is a higher response rate with combination immunotherapy, there are many more side effects with combination immunotherapy compared to single agent anti PD-1 therapy. Studies that compared ipilimumab + nivolumab versus nivolumab or pembrolizumab alone showed that the overall survival rate in these non-concurrent clinical trials are not that different. The response rate is a bit higher for combination versus single agent but there is no significant difference in overall survival.

One study looked at the LAG-3 combination of nivolumab and relatlimab and found that the response rate was higher than for a single agent, but a little bit lower than combination in that study. It may be an option for patients that want a higher response rate with less side effects.

Patient-Powered VISION Registry

Sara Selig introduced the VISION platform, a patient-powered real-world registry. With over 400 registered patients, the platform aims to collect data on diagnosis, barriers to treatment, and patient priorities. This valuable information aids in understanding the patient experience and advocating for improved resources and access.

In conclusion, the CURE OM Science Meeting showcased a vibrant landscape of advancements in ocular melanoma treatment. From neoadjuvant trials to real-world applications and promising biomarkers, the meeting underlined the collaborative efforts driving progress. As patients, advocates, and researchers continue to navigate this journey, the collective commitment to advancing knowledge and accessibility remains a beacon of hope.

Get Support

Save Your Skin Foundation wishes to bring hope and support to all those touched by melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers, or ocular melanoma – whether they are newly diagnosed, currently undergoing treatment, in remission or referred to as “NED” (no evidence of disease).

WE INVITE ALL SKIN CANCER PATIENTS, AT ANY STAGE, TO GET IN TOUCH.

We are here to help. Call us at 1-800-460-5832 or email info@saveyourskin.ca

Learn about our other resources for ocular melanoma patients:

Ocumel Canada

Ocumel Canada, an initiative of Save Your Skin Foundation, was formed to increase awareness, advance treatment options, and build a supportive community for those diagnosed with primary and/or metastatic ocular melanoma (OM).

About Ocular and Uveal Melanoma

This page contains lots of information about ocular/uveal melanoma and resources for patients.

Read more

Understanding Melanoma Cancer

Melanoma is a type of cancer in which malignant cells form in the melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin or pigment in the skin). Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin and can metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. There are several subtypes of melanoma, including cutaneous, acral, mucosal, ocular, and even amelanotic melanoma.

Here are some common questions about melanoma:

What are melanocytes?

Melanocytes are a type of cell that produces melanin, the protective black, dark brown, reddish-brown or yellow pigments that colour our skin and hair. The melanocytes are mostly found in the epidermis but can also occur elsewhere, like in the matrix of the hair.[1]

 

What causes melanoma skin cancer?

Melanoma skin cancer is influenced by various risk factors, with the primary contributor being exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun and indoor tanning. Having just one blistering sunburn as a child or teenager increases your risk of developing melanoma.

Melanocytes illustration

Other risk factors include the presence of many moles, atypical moles, congenital melanocytic nevi (birthmarks or moles that are present at birth or develop shortly after), and familial conditions like Familial Atypical Multiple Mole Melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome. Additionally, hereditary factors, such as the CDKN2A gene mutation, Xeroderma Pigmentosum, Werner syndrome, and Retinoblastoma, can elevate the risk. Light-colored skin, eyes, and hair, a personal history of skin cancer, a family history of skin cancer, and a weakened immune system are also identified as significant risk factors.[2]

 

What does melanoma skin cancer look like?

Not all melanomas have the same appearance. Depending on your skin colour, the melanoma might be brown, black, reddish, tan, sometimes even blue! Though most melanomas develop on normal-looking skin, some develop on existing moles. The best way to catch a melanoma early is to look for anything new, changing or unusual on your skin.

A common and effective tool to help you spot melanoma is the ABCDEs of Melanoma:

A stands for asymmetry, where one half of the lesion does not match the other in shape.

B stands for irregular borders; melanomas often have jagged or notched edges instead of smooth contours.

C stands for colour; melanomas sometimes have more than one colors within the lesion, such as brown, black, tan, red, blue, or white, in contrast to the more uniform shades seen in benign moles.

D stands for diameter, with melanomas tending to be larger than other moles, or grow larger over time.

E stands for evolving, highlighting the importance of observing any changes in texture, elevation, size, colour, or the development of symptoms like bleeding or itching.

Regular skin self-examinations and professional skin checks are vital for early detection, as prompt medical attention significantly improves the chances of successful melanoma treatment.

To learn more about performing a skin check, visit our Skin Check Guide page.

Is melanoma skin cancer dangerous?

Melanoma is one of the most serious forms of skin cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that it caused 1,200 deaths in Canada in 2022. The outlook for individuals with melanoma can vary significantly. Most melanomas can be cured if detected and treated before they have a chance to spread. Early detection and removal of melanoma are essential for a full recovery.

 

How is melanoma skin cancer treated?

There are various treatment options for melanoma. When someone is diagnosed with melanoma, their healthcare team discusses the best melanoma treatments for them and works with them to develop a treatment plan. Here are some of the most common treatment options:

  • Surgery
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Clinical Trials

Get Support

Save Your Skin Foundation wishes to bring hope and support to all those touched by melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers, or ocular melanoma – whether they are newly diagnosed, currently undergoing treatment, in remission or referred to as “NED” (no evidence of disease).

WE INVITE ALL SKIN CANCER PATIENTS, AT ANY STAGE, TO GET IN TOUCH.

We are here to help. Call us at 1-800-460-5832 or email info@saveyourskin.ca

Learn about other types of skin cancer:

Basal Cell Carcinoma

BCC is the most common cancer in the world, with incidence exceeding that of all other cancers combined. BCC can develop anywhere, though it is most commonly found in sun exposed areas.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which begins in the keratinocyte cells, is the second most common skin cancer. While SCC usually develops in areas that have been exposed to the sun, it can also manifest in burn or wound sites.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) is a rare non-melanoma skin cancer. It can develop in the merkel cells, which are found in the deepest areas of the epidermis and hair follicles.

[1] The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Melanocyte | Biology.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 16 Nov. 2018, www.britannica.com/science/melanocyte. Accessed November 23, 2023.

[2] Canadian Cancer Society. “Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer.” Canadian Cancer Society, cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/skin-melanoma/risks#:~:text=Most%20cases%20of%20melanoma%20skin. Accessed 25 Nov. 2023.

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Understanding Melanoma Treatment Side Effects

Facing a melanoma diagnosis can be a daunting experience. Thankfully, there are various treatment options available to combat this disease. These treatments offer the potential for recovery and a return to a fulfilling life. It’s important to be aware that, like any medical treatment, melanoma treatments can come with side effects. In this blog post, we’ll explore the side effects associated with the most common treatment types, providing insights that can empower patients to navigate their melanoma treatment journey with confidence.

Immunotherapy Side Effects

Immunotherapy is a treatment that harnesses the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. As with any treatment, side effects can vary from person to person. They also vary depending on the type of immunotherapy drug. The Canadian Cancer Society  lists the following symptoms:

The side effects of Interferon alfa-2b or interleukin-2 (cytokines) for melanoma may include:

  • Flu-like symptoms: Patients may experience symptoms such as fever, chills, and body aches, reminiscent of the flu.
  • Fatigue: General tiredness is a common side effect.
  • Loss of appetite: Anorexia, or loss of appetite, may occur.
  • Digestive issues: Side effects like diarrhea and nausea/vomiting can affect some patients.
  • Skin problems: A rash may develop as a side effect.
  • Low blood cell counts: Some patients may experience a decrease in blood cell counts.
  • Depression: High-dose interferon alfa-2b may lead to depression.
  • Swelling: Interleukin-2 can lead to swelling due to fluid retention.

The side effects for ipilimumab, nivolumab or pembrolizumab (immune checkpoint inhibitors) may include:

  • Fatigue: Patients may experience increased tiredness.
  • Diarrhea: Digestive issues, including diarrhea, can occur.
  • Skin problems: Some individuals may develop a rash.
  • Headaches: Headaches may be a side effect.
  • Liver problems: Yellowing of the skin and eyes may indicate liver problems.
  • Thyroid problems: Changes in weight, body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure may result from thyroid issues.
  • Lung problems: Cough and difficulty breathing can be side effects.

It’s important to note that side effects can occur at any time during or after immunotherapy. While most side effects are temporary and can be managed, some may persist over the long term. It is crucial for patients to report any side effects to their healthcare team promptly, as they can offer solutions to alleviate these symptoms and ensure a better treatment experience.

melanoma treatment side effects

Targeted Therapy Side Effects

Targeted therapy is a treatment that specifically attacks cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. This approach typically results in fewer and less severe side effects than traditional chemotherapy or radiation therapy. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, common side effects of targeted therapy for melanoma may include:

  • Skin problems: Rashes and dryness can affect some patients.
  • Sun sensitivity: Patients may become more sensitive to sunlight.
  • Muscle bone and joint pain: Some individuals may experience pain in these areas.
  • Fatigue: General tiredness can occur.
  • Digestive issues: Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may be side effects.
  • Fever: Patients may run a fever.
  • Eye problems: Some individuals may experience issues with their eyes.
  • Abnormal liver function: Liver problems may arise.
  • Swelling: Edema may develop.

Just like with immunotherapy, side effects from targeted therapy can appear at any time during or after treatment. While many side effects resolve on their own or with medical intervention, it’s crucial for patients to communicate any concerns with their healthcare team.

Radiation Therapy Side Effects

Radiation therapy is designed to target cancer cells with minimal harm to surrounding healthy tissue, but some damage might still occur, causing side effects during, in the days or weeks after or even years after the treatment. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the side effects will depend on the size and area being treated, the dose and the treatment schedule. The side effects may include:

  • Skin problems: Redness and irritation of the skin may arise.
  • Fatigue: General tiredness can be a side effect.
  • Hair loss: Hair loss can occur in the treated area.
  • Sore mouth and throat: When radiation is aimed at the head or neck, some patients may experience mouth and throat discomfort.
  • Lymphedema: This swelling condition may occur when radiation targets the underarm or groin area.

Similar to other treatments, side effects from radiation therapy can appear at different times. Most of these side effects are manageable, and it’s important for patients to inform their healthcare team of any issues.

Surgery Side Effects

Surgery is a common treatment for melanoma, but it can also have side effects. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, these side effects may include:

  • Pain: Pain is often managed with pain medicines.
  • Scarring: Surgical procedures can result in scarring.
  • Bruising: Some bruising may occur.
  • Changes to skin color: Skin color changes may develop.
  • Wound infection: Infections at the surgical site can occur.
  • Numbness: Some patients may experience numbness in the treated area.
  • Poor healing: Healing issues can arise.
  • Lymphedema: Lymph node dissection may lead to swelling.

As with other treatment methods, side effects from surgery can happen at various times. While most side effects are temporary and can be addressed, open communication with the healthcare team is essential.

In conclusion, melanoma treatment is a complex journey, and understanding the potential side effects is a critical part of it. While these side effects can be challenging, most are manageable with the support and guidance of a healthcare team. It is essential for patients to communicate any side effects promptly, as addressing them early can significantly improve the overall treatment experience and ultimately contribute to a better quality of life during and after melanoma treatment.

Get Support

Save Your Skin Foundation wishes to bring hope and support to all those touched by melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers, or ocular melanoma – whether they are newly diagnosed, currently undergoing treatment, in remission or referred to as “NED” (no evidence of disease).

WE INVITE ALL SKIN CANCER PATIENTS, AT ANY STAGE, TO GET IN TOUCH.

We are here to help. Call us at 1-800-460-5832 or email info@saveyourskin.ca

Learn about other types of skin cancer:

Basal Cell Carcinoma

BCC is the most common cancer in the world, with incidence exceeding that of all other cancers combined. BCC can develop anywhere, though it is most commonly found in sun exposed areas.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which begins in the keratinocyte cells, is the second most common skin cancer. While SCC usually develops in areas that have been exposed to the sun, it can also manifest in burn or wound sites.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) is a rare non-melanoma skin cancer. It can develop in the merkel cells, which are found in the deepest areas of the epidermis and hair follicles.

“Immunotherapy for Melanoma Skin Cancer.” Canadian Cancer Society, 2015, cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/skin-melanoma/treatment/immunotherapy. Accessed 27 Oct. 2023.

“Targeted Therapy for Melanoma Skin Cancer.” Canadian Cancer Society, cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/skin-melanoma/treatment/targeted-therapy. Accessed 27 Oct. 2023.

“Radiation Therapy for Melanoma Skin Cancer.” Canadian Cancer Society, cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/skin-melanoma/treatment/radiation-therapy. Accessed 27 Oct. 2023.

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Paxlovid® Submission Survey Results Data

Save Your Skin Foundation is proud to present the findings of our survey, designed to capture the experiences of individuals with COVID-19 in using Paxlovid® as a treatment. This survey welcomed participants from diverse backgrounds, including those who have battled COVID-19, regardless of whether they used Paxlovid®, as well as individuals keen to share their views on accessible treatments for the virus.

The invaluable insights gathered through this survey played a pivotal role in shaping our submissions to the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) and Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) for access to Paxlovid®.

Save Your Skin Foundation developed this survey to gather patient experiences regarding the use of Paxlovid® as a treatment for COVID-19. The survey was open to everyone who has either experienced COVID-19, regardless of whether they received Paxlovid®, and others who wanted to contribute their opinion on the importance of accessible treatments for COVID-19. This information was used for Save Your Skin Foundation to prepare submissions for access to Paxlovid® to CADTH and INESSS. This survey was endorsed and distributed by a variety of partner patient groups, to whom we are grateful for their support; a complete list of these organizations is available on the final page of this presentation.

Two versions of the survey were open from September 3-September 20, 2023, one in English and one in French. Data from both of the surveys was combined for the aforementioned CADTH and INESSS submissions. For this presentation, visual representations of the English results will be accompanied by a description of the French data for each question.

Lastly, we would like to express our gratitude to the partner patient groups who endorsed and distributed this survey, and we are thankful for their unwavering support. In these results, we will showcase the visual representations of the English survey results, complemented by detailed descriptions of the corresponding data from the French survey. Your participation and contribution have been instrumental in advancing our mission toward accessible and effective COVID-19 treatments.

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Melanoma Treatments: Understanding Your Options

This page explores the various treatment options for melanoma and discusses the latest advancements in the field. Your healthcare team will discuss the best melanoma treatments for you and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Surgery

Surgery is the primary treatment for early-stage melanoma. There are several surgical approaches, including:

  • Wide Local Excision: This involves removing the melanoma along with some healthy tissue surrounding it. The extent of the removal depends on the thickness and location of the tumor.
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: To determine if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, a sentinel lymph node biopsy may be performed. If cancer is present, more lymph nodes may need to be removed.

 

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a promising approach that harnesses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Various types of immunotherapy drugs are employed in melanoma treatment, including cytokines like interferon alfa-2b and interleukin-2, which help immune system cells communicate and help control the immune response. Additionally, immune checkpoint inhibitors like Ipilimumab, Nivolumab, and Pembrolizumab are used to block checkpoint proteins that cancer cells use to evade immune attacks.[1]

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy targets molecules within cancer cells, such as proteins, that play a role in promoting cell growth and division. By focusing on these molecules, targeted therapy drugs inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells while minimizing harm to healthy cells. Approximately half of melanoma skin cancers exhibit mutations in the BRAF gene, which drive uncontrolled cell division. MEK and C-KIT gene mutations are less common. Patients with locoregional or metastatic melanoma are often tested for these mutations, and those testing positive may respond to specific targeted therapy drugs.[2]

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy employs high-energy rays or particles to destroy melanoma cancer cells. It is used for different purposes, including destroying cancer cells, reducing the risk of cancer recurrence after surgery, and providing relief from pain or symptoms in metastatic cases. External beam radiation therapy, delivered by a machine, is the primary method for treating melanoma skin cancer.[3]

 

Chemotherapy

Traditional chemotherapy is not as effective in treating melanoma as some of the newer therapies. However, it may still be considered in certain cases, such as advanced melanoma that doesn’t respond to other treatments.

 

Clinical Trials

Participating in clinical trials can provide access to cutting-edge treatments and experimental therapies. Many breakthroughs in melanoma treatment have come from clinical trials.

Get Support

Save Your Skin Foundation wishes to bring hope and support to all those touched by melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers, or ocular melanoma – whether they are newly diagnosed, currently undergoing treatment, in remission or referred to as “NED” (no evidence of disease).

WE INVITE ALL SKIN CANCER PATIENTS, AT ANY STAGE, TO GET IN TOUCH.

We are here to help. Call us at 1-800-460-5832 or email info@saveyourskin.ca

Learn about other types of skin cancer:

Basal Cell Carcinoma

BCC is the most common cancer in the world, with incidence exceeding that of all other cancers combined. BCC can develop anywhere, though it is most commonly found in sun exposed areas.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which begins in the keratinocyte cells, is the second most common skin cancer. While SCC usually develops in areas that have been exposed to the sun, it can also manifest in burn or wound sites.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) is a rare non-melanoma skin cancer. It can develop in the merkel cells, which are found in the deepest areas of the epidermis and hair follicles.

[1] “Immunotherapy for Melanoma Skin Cancer.” Canadian Cancer Society, 2015, cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/skin-melanoma/treatment/immunotherapy. Accessed 27 Oct. 2023.

[2] “Targeted Therapy for Melanoma Skin Cancer.” Canadian Cancer Society, cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/skin-melanoma/treatment/targeted-therapy. Accessed 27 Oct. 2023.

[3] “Radiation Therapy for Melanoma Skin Cancer.” Canadian Cancer Society, cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/skin-melanoma/treatment/radiation-therapy. Accessed 27 Oct. 2023.

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Opdualag™ Submission Survey Results Data

In the realm of medical breakthroughs, understanding patient experiences is paramount. In this spirit, the Save Your Skin Foundation embarked on a pioneering initiative, delving into the world of melanoma treatment. The survey, titled “The Patient Experience of Nivolumab + Relatlimab (Opdualag™),” crafted meticulously by the foundation, was designed to fathom the depths of Opdualag™ as a treatment for adult cutaneous melanoma in stage III unresectable or stage IV melanoma.

Save Your Skin Foundation developed this survey to gather patient experiences regarding the use of Opdualag™ as a treatment for adult cutaneous melanoma in stage III unresectable or stage IV melanoma. The survey was open to everyone who has received a treatment for melanoma, regardless of stage and experience with Opdualag™; however, data logic has been applied to ensure that only applicable participants answer the questions about Opdualag™. This information was used for Save Your Skin Foundation to prepare submissions for access to Opdualag™ to the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) and Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS).

Two versions of the survey were open from July 3-July 15, 2023, one in English and one in French. Data from both of the surveys was combined for the aforementioned CADTH and INESSS submissions. For this presentation, visual representations of the English results will be accompanied by description of the French data for each question.

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Is Skin Cancer Curable?

Skin cancer is a prevalent form of cancer that affects millions of people worldwide. In Canada, about 80,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.[1] Skin cancer encompasses various types, with the most common being basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with skin cancer, you may be wondering “is skin cancer curable?” The outlook for individuals with skin cancer depends on several factors, including early detection, type, stage, and treatment. Let’s explore what the experts have to say.

 

Early Detection is Key

According to the Cleveland Clinic, nearly all skin cancers can be cured if they’re treated before they have a chance to spread. This emphasizes the crucial role of early detection. The earlier skin cancer is found and removed, the better the chances of a full recovery. It’s essential to schedule regular check-ups with a dermatologist to ensure that any potential issues are identified promptly. If you notice something unusual on your skin, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.

 

Types of Skin Cancer

As noted by the Cancer Research UK, different types of skin cancer have varying prognoses:

 

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

BCC is highly curable, with an extremely low likelihood of spreading to other parts of the body. Most cases can be treated effectively by removing the cancerous tissue along with a small margin of surrounding healthy skin.

 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

SCC is also typically curable, with a high success rate in treatment. In some instances where SCC has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body, it may still be curable through appropriate treatment such as surgery, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or cryotherapy.[2]

 

Melanoma

Early stage melanoma is often curable through surgery.[3] Among the surgical techniques available for melanoma, wide excision is commonly recommended. This procedure involves the complete removal of the cancerous tissue. More advanced melanoma will often require additional forms of treatment, such a s lymph node dissections, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.

Prognostic Factors

The prognosis for non-melanoma skin cancers is generally excellent, but various factors can influence the outcome, as explained by the Canadian Cancer Society. These factors include:

Location: Skin cancer on certain areas, such as around the eyes, nose, lips, ears, scalp, fingers, toes, and genitals, may have a higher risk of recurrence or metastasis.

Size and Depth: Larger tumors and those that have grown deep into the skin are more likely to come back.

Recurrence: Skin cancer that returns after treatment may have a less favorable prognosis.

Type or Subtype: Some subtypes of BCC and SCC tend to grow more quickly and have different outcomes.

Immunosuppression: Weakened immune systems can impact the prognosis.

Stage: The stage at diagnosis is a significant determinant of prognosis.

Outlook for Skin Cancer In general, the outlook for skin cancer is positive. The 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99% if detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. For BCC and SCC, the outlook is favorable, especially when diagnosed early. However, as skin cancer advances, the prognosis may vary. In conclusion, most skin cancers are curable, especially when detected and treated in their early stages. Early detection, regular check-ups with a dermatologist, and prompt treatment are essential in ensuring a positive outcome. While skin cancer can be a serious diagnosis, advances in medical treatments offer hope and optimism for those affected by this condition. If you have concerns about your specific case, consult with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance on your prognosis and treatment options.

Is Skin Cancer Curable?

In general, the outlook for skin cancer is positive. The 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99% if detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. For BCC and SCC, the outlook is favorable, especially when diagnosed early. However, as skin cancer advances, the prognosis may vary.

In conclusion, most skin cancers are curable, especially when detected and treated in their early stages. Early detection, regular check-ups with a dermatologist, and prompt treatment are essential in ensuring a positive outcome. While skin cancer can be a serious diagnosis, advances in medical treatments offer hope and optimism for those affected by this condition.

Please remember that the statistics and opinions cited on this page are general, and do not apply to every person’s experience of skin cancer. And if you have concerns about your specific case, consult with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance on your prognosis and treatment options.

Get Support

Save Your Skin Foundation wishes to bring hope and support to all those touched by melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers, or ocular melanoma – whether they are newly diagnosed, currently undergoing treatment, in remission or referred to as “NED” (no evidence of disease).

WE INVITE ALL SKIN CANCER PATIENTS, AT ANY STAGE, TO GET IN TOUCH.

We are here to help. Call us at 1-800-460-5832 or email info@saveyourskin.ca

Learn More About Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a drug treatment that uses the human body’s own immune system to fight cancer.  It may be administered to patients intravenously in the Chemotherapy Unit of the hospital, but it is not the same as chemotherapy.

Learn More About Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy drugs are designed to specifically target cancer cells. For melanoma, these drugs target the activity of a specific or unique feature of melanoma cancer cells.

Learn More About Clinical Trials

New treatments are tested in clinical trials before they are approved for general use. There are safeguards in place to ensure clinical trials are as safe as possible and meet medical ethical standards. Participating in a trial can be a way to have access to potentially helpful new therapies you couldn’t get otherwise.

[1] “Skin Cancer.” Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation, www.canadianskincancerfoundation.com/skin-cancer/. Accessed 9 Oct. 2023.

[2] “Is Skin Cancer Curable.” Medical News Today, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/is-skin-cancer-curable. Accessed 9 Oct. 2023.

[3] “Melanoma Overview.” Skin Cancer Foundation, www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/. Accessed 9 Oct. 2023.

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Move for Melanoma 2023 – It’s a Wrap

A tremendous THANK YOU to all of our incredibly dedicated participants and generous donors!

50 participants and 14 teams across Canada took part in Move for Melanoma this year! We have been so moved and inspired by this incredible community of patients, families, and friends.

After the success of last year, we once again set ourselves an ambitious goal of raising $75,000. With your help, we ended up reaching our goal once again this year!

Video wrap up

To wrap up this monumental weekend, we’ve created the Recap Video below. We hope you will take a few moments to watch it as we pay tribute to our incredible participants, donors and sponsors across Canada. You can also view our 2023 PSA with J.T. Miller from the Vancouver Canucks!

We’d also like to highlight the three fundraising teams that raised the most this year.

Team Ocumel Canada

Based in Victoria, BC, Team Captain Nigel Deacon ran a marathon distance to inspire others to donate to this worthy cause. Together with his fellow team members, they raised an incredible $12,777 for ocular melanoma patients.

Check out his team page here.

Scots across the Rockies

Based in Powel River, BC, Team Captain Taylor Tomko created a family donation page in hopes of inspiring others to donate to this worthy cause. Together with her fellow team members, they raised an incredible $9,704 for melanoma patients.

Check out her team page here.

Helen’s Freewheelers’s

Based in Nanaimo, BC, Team Helen’s Freewheelers raised funds in honour of Helen’s courageous battle against metastatic Basal Cell Carcinoma. She’s now undergoing immunotherapy on Vancouver Island and exploring more advanced treatment options and clinical drug trials. The team raised $6,000

Check out their team page here.

Finally, we’d like to acknowledge the many businesses that stepped up to support our event this year. Please show them your support!

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Sty-Lives Can Save Lives: A Conversation with Iveta Voll

Note: this post was authored by Taylor Tomko, Director of Special Projects at SYSF

This month, we are continuing to recruit hairstylists and barbers for our Sty-Lives initiative! Sty-Lives empowers hairdressers to be able to detect suspicious skin lesions on the ears, face and scalp of their clients, facilitating communication between the client and their healthcare provider and leading to earlier detection of potentially dangerous skin cancers. We were recently reminded of the importance of checking the scalp through our community member, Iveta Voll, who unfortunately lost her husband, Steve, in November 2022 to melanoma that initially manifested on his scalp. Recently, I had a call with Iveta, in which we discussed her and Steve’s experience with melanoma and the importance of programs like Sty-Lives.

In November 2019, Steve discovered a scab-like growth on his scalp that he had not previously noticed due to its location. The spot at this point of discovery was already black and large, about the size of a two-dollar coin. After his dermatologist took a biopsy, the spot came back as melanoma that was too deep to be surgically removed. The melanoma had already moved into his lungs, making it stage 4. Steve was immediately referred to a hospital oncologist, and soon began receiving targeted pill therapy to which he had a dramatically positive response. By his next CT scan three months later, all of Steve’s melanoma lesions had vanished. Unfortunately, this treatment does not have a long duration of response, and it only worked for Steve for 14 months.

Once Steve’s melanoma began to return, he began an immunotherapy treatment, followed by another targeted pill therapy, neither of which had positive results. At this point, it was spring 2022. Steve and Iveta were devastated, as the only option left for Steve was a drug trial, hopefully at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. After about a month or so of excruciating waiting, Steve was enrolled in a phase I drug trial, which began just after Thanksgiving 2022. However, this trial meant that Iveta and Steve would have to relocate from Kitchener to Toronto while Steve received the drug. Travelling in four-day cycles between Kitchener and Toronto was challenging for Steve, who had begun to have difficulties catching his breath and an elevated heart rate. A special CT scan showed that he had developed blood clots in his lungs from the cancer. Soon afterwards, it was discovered that Steve’s melanoma had metastasized from his lungs to his liver and was growing very rapidly.

At this point, Steve was told that he unfortunately could not continue in this trial due to the extremely fast-growingmelanoma in his liver. Feeling like they were now truly out of options, Iveta and Steve returned home and updated their local oncologist. It was now early November 2022. At this appointment, Steve was given the devastating prognosis of weeks to months. At the end of that same week, Steve woke up struggling to breathe and his heart rate was extremely high. Iveta called an ambulance, and Steve was admitted to the hospital with a fever, which was likely related to the liver metastasis. Steve stayed in the hospital for five days, spending much time with Iveta, their son, Aaron, and his immediate family. Little did they know that the prognosis of weeks to months would turn out to be just seven short days later; Steve passed away very suddenly on November 8th, 2022 in the hospital surrounded by his loved ones. He and Iveta had been married for 27 years.

Since Steve’s passing, Iveta has started volunteering and is eager to get involved with melanoma-related causes. She, like many of us who have been touched by cancer, wants to ensure that others don’t go through the same painful experience as them. Because Steve’s melanoma appeared on his scalp, she is especially passionate about the Sty-Lives initiative. “Skin cancer is so preventable, and hairdressers can save lives, there’s no doubt about it,” Iveta says, “people visit a hairdresser more often than they visit their family doctor.” Iveta and I talked about the Sty-Lives program at length, including how hairdressers can take on responsibility by having Sty-Lives training, how they can move past any feelings of awkwardness, and how visitors to hair salons can encourage their stylists to get involved. Importantly, as Iveta and I discussed, we are not encouraging hairstylists to try to be doctors or to try to diagnose. Simply alerting their clients of any questionable moles they see on their scalp is sufficient. As Iveta said, “just mention to your client that there’s a suspicious mole(s) on their scalp that they may want to get checked out by a doctor. That’s it. You don’t have to say [whether you] think it’s cancerous or not. Let the client go off and get it explored.”

I raised the question to Iveta about stylists who, for whatever reason, might feel uncomfortable bringing up a mole to their clients. Iveta indicated that the picture is bigger than that, as a hairdresser speaking up could potentially be lifesaving. “I don’t think people are going to get upset if you tell them about a questionable mole or a lesion… I think ninety-nine percent of people would be so thankful,” adding that “it’s better to say more than less.” Hairdressers are, of course, also welcome to ask their clients if they are interested in a mole check at the beginning of the service, to get a sense of whether certain clients will be receptive to it. Iveta asserted that she would certainly be pleased if a hairdresser suggested a mole check during an appointment: “I think if my hairdresser [asked to check my scalp for moles] I would be so impressed. I would give them an extra tip!”

Iveta also brought up the possibility, as citizens who are aware of melanoma, of being proactive with our hairstylists. In addition to mentioning the Sty-Lives initiative to our hairdressers, we can also ask them to keep an eye out for scalp moles during our appointments. “Ask your hairdresser—don’t wait for them,” Iveta suggested, adding that “once that customer asks their hairdresser to check their scalp, guess what? That hairdresser might start doing it for others.” Spreading the word this way, even if hairstylists don’t sign up for the Sty-Lives program, is still extremely beneficial. As Iveta points out, “it’s an issue of awareness, as most people don’t know they can get deadly skin cancer on their scalp.”

Iveta and I finished off our discussion by talking about how to get our own hairstylists involved. If you are reading this and considering mentioning the program to your hairdresser, we encourage you to do so! If they are interested, you can send their contact information to a member of the SYSF team and we will do the rest. We are also currently running the #HairHeroes challenge, where stylists can submit photos or videos of them performing a skin check to be shared on social media. Thank you all for reading and thank you so much to Iveta for her time, thoughts, and support.

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