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Melanoma

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

The melanoma incidence was 3.9 times greater in persons consuming selenium in unusually high levels in tap water over an 11-year period. We could assume that selenium supplements might behave in a similar manner. On the other hand, low levels of selenium have been associated with the development of malignant melanoma. Selenium can be found in large quantities in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Brazil nuts are particularly high sources.

Melanoma has doubled its rate in the decade from 1975-1985 due to widespread customs of tanning. Sunburning in childhood is especially dangerous for subsequent development of melanoma. If children are sunburned before adolescence, melanoma is far more likely to occur than sunburns occurring after the age of 20 by two times greater risk.

Some studies indicate, however, that even if malignant cells are not killed by the heat, they are rendered incapable of reproducing themselves after having been heater to lesser temperatures, around 103° F. The most responsive tumors are malignant melanomas (pigmented skin cancers), fibrosarcoma (connective tissue cancers), chondrosarcoma (cancer of the cartilage), osteogenic sarcoma (bone), and squamous carcinoma (skin and other cancers). Some have noted the disappearance of lung metastases following the treatment of the primary tumor by heat. The presence of large numbers of macrophages has been consistently observed after heat therapy. Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England 54:72, February 1974.

Some of the patients developed acidosis or leukocytosis with the fever bath. These responses may be a part of the beneficial results of the fever treatments.

Heating tumor antigens modifies the antigen in such a way as to stimulate the immunity of the individual. It may be that even moderate heating, up to 102 or 103° F, of patients with cancers gives a better resistance to cancer because of the modification of the tumor antigen. Journal of the American Medical Association 236(25):2845, December 20, 1976.

Ginseng extracts have shown ability to inhibit tumor cell invasion of cancers such as hepatoma cells, melanoma cells, small cell lung carcinoma (a very malignant cancer), and pancreatic cancer in rats. Japanese Journal of Cancer Research 87:357, 1996.

Ginseng may also help prevent certain cancers according to researchers at the Korea Cancer Center Hospital in Seoul. These researchers asked patients with cancer, and those without cancer, whether they used ginseng. Those who consumed ginseng had only half the probability of getting particular cancers as non-consumers of ginseng. Those certain cancers were cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, larynx, lung, and ovaries. Atlanta Journal October 19, 1995, Jean Carper. It is well worth a trial to begin taking ginseng even after a cancer has developed.

Patients with melanoma have an increase in all blood viscosity factors. Melanoma metastasis was detected by an elevation of viscosity factors prior to any clinical evidence. It is quite possible that an elevation in red cell clumping from any cause (chilling, fatigue, heavy fat meals, alcohol consumption, or surgery) can enhance metastasis of cancer. Lodgment of cancer cells is inhibited by an inhibition of platelet and red cell clumping. Cigarette smoking increases blood viscosity as does chronic anxiety. Blood Viscosity in Heart Disease and Cancer, Editors: L. Dintenfass, G.V. F. Seaman, Pergamon Press; 1981.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancers are of many kinds, but the three principal kinds are squamous cancer, basal cell cancer, and malignant melanoma (about 5% of all skin cancers). Of these three, the third is the most feared, as it is most likely to metastasis and cause death. As with other cancers, there are multiple causes, many ways of preventing, and many ways of treating.

Causes

1. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is thought to be a cause of skin cancer. HPV can be transmitted from one person to another in several manners, but the venereal transport is the commonest way. Persons whose immune system is suppressed may have a higher risk of getting basal cell and squamous carcinomas if they also have an infection with HPV which causes genital warts and cervical cancer.

2. The sun is a definite hazard to individuals for skin cancer. Most sunbathers believe that wearing sunscreens will prevent skin cancers. There continues to be evidence that sunscreens may not be the best protection. While sunscreens may also be worn by individuals who will have extensive exposure, better and safer sunscreens need to be produced.

3. Hereditary predisposition is a primary factor in skin cancer. Fair-skinned blondes with freckles and blue eyes are most prominently affected.

4. A high-fat diet is know to be involved in skin cancer incidence. A low-fat diet is most helpful to retard any kind of skin growths.

Prevention

1. Try to keep the time in the sun to a minimum, no matter what time of day or year.

2. Try to get sun exposure in the early morning, or late in the afternoon when the sun's rays are more oblique. A general rule is before 10:00 and after 4:00.3. Use a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF, but do not depend on sunscreens as they are limited in their ability to protect you.

4. Use hats, clothing, sun glasses, umbrellas, etc. Stay in the sun as much as possible.

5. Always try to avoid getting tanned, as tans are always an indication of damage to the skin by the sun.

6. Basal cell and squamous cancers have a high risk of recurrence after the first cancer is discovered and removed within five years, 35% at three years, and 50% at five years. Men over 60 are highest risk of recurrence; those who have had previous skin cancers to recur; those who sunburn readily; and those who smoke are highest risk.

Treatment

  • For melanoma a chemical produced form the bark of the common birch trees has been highly effective on melanomas in animals. The natural substance is betulinic acid. Veterinarians may be able to give advice on application.
  • A low-fat diet is effective in the management and prevention of basal cell and squamous cancers of the skin. At the same time grains, fruits, and vegetables should be increased in the diet. Nutrition and Cancer 27:150,1997.
  • For melanomas we recommend a series of fever baths upon healing of the surgical incision. Give a series of 15 treatments and repeat every three months for the first year; then every six months the second year; and annually thereafter.
  • An all-raw food diet for one month is helpful. If the weight is up, bring it down to normal.
  • Live by all the eight natural laws of health. Allow no exceptions.
  • Take appropriate herbs for cancer.

The Natural History and Staging of Malignant Melanoma

Ciba Pharmaceutical Company supported the study at M.D. Anderson Hospital, Houston, TX.

Melanomas are usually flat, hairless moles, probably originated in a cluster of nevus cells, and invades blood vessels and lymph nodes. In 15% of cases, it has already metastasized by the time of surgery. The average survival time for metastatic melanoma is 18 months if not treated.

Melanoma is the most lethal of the skin tumors, but not a death knell. Lesions less than 1.5 cm have a very good prognosis. Greater than 1.5-4 cm there is no reliable indicator of metastasis incidence. Some will metastasize, some will not. The older-age patient, 60 and over, has a better risk factor, as these cancers usually grow more slowly in older persons.

Peak incidence 35-50 years of age. Men and women are about equal in occurrence. In women, 71% of melanomas occur in the lower extremities, whereas 63% of melanomas in men occur on the upper extremities and upper back.

Staging System for Melanomas

0 Superficial. These are less than 1mm deep.

I Locally invasive. More than 1 mm deep. Can metastasize.

II Recurrent or local metastasis within 3 cm of primary. Use wider excision.

III Regional disease. Cutaneous or lymph node metastasis. Still potentially curable.
All these should be cured except for 10%.
On the extremities with one lymph node felt, do iliac or axillary dissection, and six weeks later an inguinofemoral node dissection. Four lymph nodes found with metastasis gives a 30% expectation of five-year survival.

IV Spread beyond the primary stage. Expect only a four-month survival.
Widely disseminated. If there is no visceral spread the patient has better prognosis. Incurable, but we should try to slow down the spread with lifestyle changes and natural treatments outlined here.

Melanoma is most likely to recur, spread, and become fatal within a two-year period following pregnancy. Lancet, 3-18-91.

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