Melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer, says Dr. Geoffrey Young, Chief of Head & Neck Surgery at Miami Cancer Institute, who explains it is related to sun exposure. However, he adds, some families have genetic components, genetic changes that predispose them to melanoma. But the main risk factor is chronic sun exposure. Xeroderma pigmentosus is a rare genetic disorder that is caused by an inability or defect in repairing the DNA from damage from the UV light, according to Doctor Guilherme Rabinowits, Co-Leader of Head & Neck Oncology at Miami Cancer Institute. Probably one in 250.000 people develop that disease, he says.
Melanoma is a surgical disease according to Dr. Geoffrey Young, Chief of Head & Neck Surgery at Miami Cancer Institute, who also explains that the first treatment is to remove the melanoma and then depending on the depth of the melanoma there may be an additional procedure called sentinel lymph node that's required. This is a procedure where the doctor checks the lymph node and looks for cancer inside it. This information is used to give a prognostic decision about what should be done beyond that. “Predominantly in early stages, melanoma is a surgery treated disease," the doctor adds. In addition, Doctor Guilherme Rabinowits, Co-Leader of Head & Neck Oncology at Miami Cancer Institute mentions most studies show that if the patient has a positive lymph node disease it is convenient to start adding therapy drugs. Immunotherapy could make the same changes that were previously made with radiation.
Treatments of the head & neck cancers are extremely complex, according to Doctors Guilherme Rabinowits, Co-Leader of Head & Neck Oncology and Geoffrey Young, Chief of Head & Neck Surgery at the Miami Cancer Institute. Doctor Rabinowits considers It's extremely important once the patient is diagnosed to see a multidisciplinary team where it has not only a surgeon, but a medical oncologist and radiation oncologist too. Dr. Young explains The five-year survival plan, which is mainly based on statistics. “It's what we call the prognosis and we consider someone in most head and neck cancers that's made it to five year mark to be “cured", he says". The goal is curing the cancer, and optimize the quality of life, doctors agree.
A pigmented lesion is shown in a digital imaging while Dr. Geoffrey Young, Chief of Head & Neck Surgery at Miami Cancer Institute explains that Melanoma is changing pigmented lesion and when it has any change it should be biopsied. He also says that people with other cancer melanomas or strong family histories may need more increased surveillance.
One of the main things in order to prevent head and neck cancer is lifestyle modifications says Doctor Geoffrey Young, Chief of Head & Neck Surgery at Miami Cancer Institute. He affirms that a lot of those tumors are resultant from chronic alcohol use or even chronic tobacco use. Moderating consumption of alcohol and quitting smoking these are the best preventive medicines against this type of cancer. They show a graphic with recommendations to reduce the cancer risk, while Dr. Young indicates the most common cancers on the head and neck are related to HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), the virus that has increased its incidence in the last 20 years. Vaccination is the best way to prevent HPV. “We do have good evidence to suggest that a vaccine will help future cancers and recommended children between the ages 11 and 12 get vaccinated. The vaccines are available for anyone between 9 to 26," he says.