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What's the ABCDE Rule?: AIM at Melanoma Walk

ABCDE Rule:  AIM at Melanoma Walk

Do you know the ABCDE rule?  

In May I flew to Texas to participate in a fundraiser to raise money for cancer research.  The event was held at Bachman Lake Park Dallas, Texas.  AIM is a non-profit organization committed to melanoma research, education, awareness, and legislation.  Jean Schlipmann, President at James A. Schlipmann Melanoma Cancer Foundation and Co-Founder Aim at Melanoma, pictured in the bottom photo in the middle.  Scott Murray, Emmy Award winning broadcaster and cancer survivor, was the emcee.  Participants raised over $17, 000 for the foundation and its work.  Carol Kendall's team, the team I joined with, raised $4,409.  

Who should care about skin cancer?  Everyone.  Lighter skin tones do not have as much protection from damaging ultraviolet rays than darker skin tones. An important note to remember:  People with darkly pigmented skin get melanoma cancer too.  Famous examples include Maureen Reagan, Bob Marley, and John McCain.

Glossary of Important Terms

ABCDE rule - Acronym for the general guidelines used to identify an atypical mole or melanoma based on the following features:  Asymmetry, irregular Border, multiple or unusual Color, large Diameter, and evidence that the mole is Evolving.

Basal-Cell Carcinoma - One of the 2 most-common kinds of nonmelanoma cancer.  It almost never metastasizes and is made up of the cells at the bottom layer of the epidermis that give rise to keratinocytes.

Cancer - A general term for more than 100 different diseases that involve the uncontrolled growth and division of abnormal cells.  These cells form collections called tumors that can destroy surrounding normal tissue and spread throughout the body.

Down and Back Skin Check - A systematic way to perform skin self-examination, starting at the top of the head and moving down the front of the body and up the back.

Excisional Biopsy - A biopsy in which the goal is to remove all of a tumor that is in evidence.

Fraction - A daily dose of radiation; 1 part of a total prescribed dose of radiation.

Gene-Based Immunotherapy - Type of gene therapy in which antigen genes are introduced into tumor cells in order to stimulate an immune response.

High-Risk Melanoma - Melanoma that has a greater than 50% probability of recurring in regional lymph nodes or at distant sites.

Invasive Cancer - Cancer that has traveled beyond its site of origin; also known as infiltrating cancer.

Junctional Melanocytic Nevi - Acquired moles that arise from groups of melanocytes in the skin's dermoepidermal junction.  They tend to first appear in childhood as flat, frecklelike lesions of brown, dark brown, or black, and are uniform in color. They are most commonly found on the face, arms, legs, trunk, genitals, or soles of the feet.

Keloid - A thick, irregular scar that grows beyond the boundaries of the original wound.  It is caused by excessive connective tissue growth at the site of an incision or wound.

Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH) - An enzyme found in the blood and many body tissues such as the liver, kidney, brain, and lungs. LDH levels are determined by a simple blood test. Elevated levels of LDH may indicate the presence of metastatic disease.

Macrometastases - Lymph node metastases that can be felt during medical examination or seen by the naked eye when inspected by a surgeon or pathologist.

Natural Killer (NK) Cells - White blood cells that contain granules with enzymes lethal to other cells.

Oncogene - A gene that normally encourages cell division.  Thus, when an oncogene is activated or deregulated through mutations, it initiates cancerous growth in a cell.

Paclitaxel - A chemotherapeutic agent that is approved for treatment of some cancers and currently under investigation for treatment of metastatic melanoma. It belongs to a class of drugs called taxanes; also known as Taxol.

Quit burning in the sun - Use sunscreen everyday. 

Radiation Oncologist - A physician who specializes in treating cancer with radiation therapy.

S-100 B - A protein secreted by malignant melanoma cells and being investigated as a tumor marker.

T-Cells - A major class of lymphocytes.  There are 2 types of T-cells: cytotoxic T-cells and helper T-cells. They play a vital role in the immune response.

Ulceration - A condition in which the epidermis that covers a portion of the primary melanoma is not intact.  Ulceration is determined by microscopic evaluation of the tissue by a pathologist.

Vaccine - A treatment that introduces small amounts of inactivated "foreign" substances into the immune system so that it can recognize and fight that substance during an active infection.

White Blood Cells (Leukocytes) - Blood cells that are critical tools in the body's immune system, which fights infection.

Xeroderma Pigmentosum - A rare, inherited condition associated with an inability to repair DNA damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.

Yervoy - Yervoy is approved by the FDA for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic Stage III or IV melanoma.  Yervoy is designed to restore and strengthen the immune system by successfully activating T-cells, a critical component of the immune system, thereby sustaining an active immune response to fight the cancer cells. Studies indicate it improves overall median survival by four months.

Z-100 - An immunomodulatory arabinomannan extracted from Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain Aoyama B, augments anti-tumor activities of X-ray irradiation against B16 melanoma in association with the improvement of type 1T cell responses.

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