Friday, December 30, 2005

Famed oncologist dies of melanoma

After initially beating melanoma seven years ago, Dr. John Murren was rediagnosed with melanoma in November. After fighting cancer for others, Dr. Murren himself succumbed to it on Wednesday. He was 47. Dr. Murren and his brother Jim Murren founded the Nevada Cancer Institute in 2002. Dr. Murren served on it's board and recruited many of the institute's researchers. The Murrens lost their father to melanoma in 1990.

From the Las Vegas Sun:
A renowned Yale University oncologist and cancer researcher, John Murren specialized in studying the effectiveness of cancer drug therapies and advancing the use of new treatments, said Jim Murren, president and chief financial officer for MGM Mirage.

Jim Murren said his brother held the vision behind the Nevada Cancer Institute.

"... It was John, and solely John, who was the inspiration and really the genesis of the Nevada Cancer Institute," he said. "It was John that encouraged the titans of the cancer world to come to Las Vegas because they knew and admired and respected him."

Dr. John Murren, 47, died Wednesday morning at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., after losing his own battle with melanoma.

The Murren brothers lost their father, Connecticut state Rep. John Henry Murren, to melanoma, a rare but more deadly form of skin cancer, in 1990 at age 59.

John Murren specialized in the treatment and prevention of lung cancer. He was chief of the Yale Medical Oncology Outpatient Clinic, director of the Lung Cancer unit at Yale Cancer Center and had one of the largest practices at Yale, treating thousands of patients each year.

Because of his influence, the Nevada Cancer Institute is already involved in more than 30 clinical trials this year that will include about 150 patients.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Older white women with skin cancer history at greater risk.

If you're a white woman over 50 with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer you're in a high risk group for contracting melanoma... regardless of how much sun you're exposed to.

From Northwestern University press release:

"This study adds a history of the relatively favorable non-melanoma skin cancer -- in and of itself -- to the list of known risk factors for melanoma in both sun lovers and shade dwellers alike," said lead author Carol A. Rosenberg, M.D., assistant professor medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Rosenberg is also director of Preventive Health Initiatives, a senior attending physician at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare and a researcher at The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

The study found that postmenopausal, non-Hispanic white women aged 50 to 79 years with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer, such as basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer, but no other malignancies were more than twice as more likely to develop cutaneous melanoma over a period of 6.5 years compared with women who had no history of non-melanoma skin cancer, no matter how much sun exposure or other lifestyle variables they have experienced.

"Our study further defines melanoma risk in post-menopausal women and, it is hoped, will sensitize the medical community to this risk, serving as a catalyst for development of new routines of follow-up and patient assessment to facilitate earlier detection of melanoma," said Rosenberg.

"This skin surveillance imperative may serve to be lifesaving in predisposed women," said Rosenberg.

If you've had it already you're at greater risk.

We've heard this before and this is hardly earth-shattering news but a recent report in the International Journal of Cancer suggests that you're at a greater risk for getting a second melanoma if you've already had one. If you aren't already extra vigilant after recovering from your first melanoma, you obviously should be.


From Reuters:
Individuals diagnosed with a first malignant melanoma of the skin have a significantly increased risk of being diagnosed with a second malignant melanoma, according to a report in the current issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

$30 million donation for melanoma research

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

A little-known millionaire has donated $30 million towards finding a cure for melanoma and hopes other rich Australians will follow his act by giving money to charity.

The money donated by Sydney businessman Greg Poche, who built the private freight company Star Track Express, is believed to be the largest single public charitable donation by an individual, a Sydney newspaper reported.

It will be put towards a new Sydney Melanoma Unit at North Sydney's Mater Hospital.

The 63-year-old said he wanted to inspire Australia's multi-millionaires to give some of their wealth to similar projects, a move popular in America.

It was believed Mr Poche, persuaded by a friend who is a Friends of the Mater member to make the donation, was originally asked for $10 million.

The funding will allow projects such as the development of an anti-cancer vaccine to be developed, said Sydney Melanoma Unit director Professor John Thompson.

Mr Poche has also committed to more funding of the centre once it is established.