Melanoma Wellness Protocol
Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer that accounts for only 2 to 4% of all skin cancer cases, yet 79% of all skin cancer related deaths.In 2011, there were an estimated 960,231 people living with melanoma of the skin in the United States.
Despite its deadly nature, when melanoma is diagnosed early it is considered very survivable. According to the data from SEER 18 (2004-2010), 91.3% of early diagnosed melanoma cases survive without recurrence at the 5 year mark.
The incidence for melanoma is currently increasing at a rate of 3% per year, the fastest of any cancer.
Although the incidence of melanoma is highest among older adults, it can occur in any age group. For example, it is the most common cancer among women age 20-30.
Consume a vegetable rich, Mediterranean-style diet, emphasizing whole foods, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, etc.) and foods high in beta-carotene, such as pumpkin, tomato, melon, kale, broccoli, mango, grapefruit, papaya, guava, carrots, spinach, peppers and squash.
A number of risk factors are known to be associated with melanoma, primarily based on genetics (such as skin tone, eye color and hair color), level of sunburn and tanning, and genetic risk factors.
Among the most well-established risk factors include:
- A history of melanoma in the family, particularly a first degree relative. 10% of people with melanoma have a family history of the cancer
- Having fair skinned complexions – this includes freckles, skin that burns easily, green or blue eyes, or red or blonde hair
- Having a history of sunburns (especially blistering sunburns in childhood) and long term exposure to tanning
Other known risk factors include:
- Exposure to radiation, solvents, vinyl chloride and PCBs
- Having a family history of unusual moles (atypical nevus syndrome).
ENVIRONMENT MATTERS Do not over tan or sunburn. Even tanning without risk of sunburn contributes to the risk of developing melanoma.
Physical Exam - Melanomas can occur in sun exposed skin, as well as areas not normally exposed to the sun, such as the abdomen, soles of the feet and genital areas. Despite a fair complexion and white genetic profile there is one type of melanoma that is found more frequently in African Americans and Asians, which occurs on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and nailbeds, called Acral lentiginous melanoma.
Biopsy - A procedure to remove the abnormal tissue and a small amount of normal tissue around it. A pathologist will examine the biopsied tissue microscopically. Patients may want to have the sample of tissue checked by a second pathologist. If the abnormal mole or lesion is malignant, the sample of tissue may also be tested for certain gene changes.
Cancer staging and classification - Staging is the process of finding out how much cancer there is in a person’s body and where it’s located. Melanoma stages are assigned based on the size or thickness of the tumor, whether or not it has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs, and certain other characteristics, such as growth rate. Physical exams, imaging procedures, laboratory tests, pathology reports, and surgical reports provide information to determine the stage of a cancer. Very thin melanomas (<.75 mm in thickness), are associated with very high cure rates from surgery alone, so early diagnosis is very valuable.
Genetic Evaluation may be recommended, as a number of genetic mutations have been associated with prognosis (outlook) and help to predict how beneficial different treatments may be.
STAY ACTIVE Exercise is a well-established way to prevent cancer development, including lymphoma. One study found that women who sat for 6 hours a day had a 28% higher risk of NHL than those who sat for 3 hours per day.
WATCH YOUR WEIGHT Avoid obesity. High fat diets and obesity combined increase risk for melanoma.
- Foods high in beta-carotene, which can then convert to retinol, such as pumpkin, tomato, melon, kale, broccoli, mango, grapefruit, papaya, guava, carrots, spinach, peppers and squash.
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.
- Whole foods (foods that are as close to their natural form as possible)
- Low sugar/low glycemic diet (Glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) are measures of the effect on blood glucose level after a food containing carbohydrates is consumed)
- Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold water fish such as sardines, wild-caught salmon, cod, mackerel, tuna
- High fiber, from whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits
- Healthy fats, from avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, cold water fish
- For animal protein, choose lean poultry and fish over red meat, and aim to view meat as a condiment rather than a staple. Try to choose grass fed and organic meats and eggs whenever possible. Eat no fish larger than a salmon to minimize environmental contaminants, including mercury.
- Processed and grilled meats. Also, try to limit intake of red meat
- Fast foods, fried foods, baked goods and packaged, processed foods
- Sugar, sweeteners and artificial sweeteners
- Vegetable oils, shortening, margarine and anything with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
Multiple nutritional supplements have been associated with reduced cancer incidence and/or cancer progression. This list contains those with the greatest evidence-based benefit.
In vivo and in vitro studies demonstrate that astragalus significantly inhibits the growth of melanoma.,
Use of standardized extract: 250-500 mg, 3 – 4 times a day standardized to 0.4% 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy isoflavones
250-500 mg, 3 – 4 times per day; Tincture (1:5) in 30% ethanol: 20-60 drops, 3 times per day.
Green Tea Extract
Catechins are antioxidants found in green tea, particularly EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), are known to have numerous anti-metastatic and anti-proliferative properties. Studies on melanoma in animal cells have shown that EGCG causes cellular death and inhibition of cell cycles.,
1g EGCG and mixed catechins per day.
Berberine, used in conjunction with the chemotherapy medication doxorubicin, decreased melanoma tumor cell volume and replication of metastatic cells.,,
500mg, 3 times per day.
Studies on melanoma in animal cells demonstrate powerful anti-cancer properties of the mushroom.
Capsules range from 100 to 500 mg, with at least 12-25 mg of standardized extract, 1-3 times per day.
Malignant melanoma cells exposed to resveratrol had disruption in cell signaling pathways in both human and animal cell studies.,
100 mg per day.
Large human studies have shown that the use of vitamin A in the form of retinol significantly reduces the risk of melanoma, especially in sun exposed areas of the body such as the head and neck.,
1200 mg per day.
Meta-analysis on individuals with cutaneous melanoma demonstrated an inverse relationship between levels of vitamin D and the thickness of the tumors, as well as a poorer prognosis with deficient levels., Genetic analysis of melanoma patients also showed that the FokI and TaqI polymorphisms in the VDR gene are considered as potential biomarkers for melanoma susceptibility, with low vitamin D levels in melanoma patients indicating the need for vitamin D supplementation.
Suggested dose is that sufficient to raise vitamin D blood levels to >40 ng/mL, which may require 5000 IU per day or more.
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