Science and Medicine

New Risk Factors for Chronic Skin Cancer

It’s not something at the moment we can cure. It’s something that we need to monitor continually so that when these cancers crop up we can minimize the damage

New analysis suggests that for some people with high risk factors, basal cell carcinoma is a chronic disease.

High sun exposure before the age of 30 was a major predictor, as was a history of eczema.

“Basal cell carcinoma is a chronic disease once people have had multiple instances of it, because they are always at risk of getting more,” says Martin Weinstock, professor of dermatology in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, who practices at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“It’s not something at the moment we can cure. It’s something that we need to monitor continually so that when these cancers crop up we can minimize the damage.”

Dermatologists hold out hope for a medication that will help prevent recurrences of BCC. To test one such medicine, Weinstock chaired the six-site, six-year VA Topical Tretinoin Chemoprevential Trial, which last year found that the skin medication failed to prevent further instances of BCC in high-risk patients.

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Immune Suppressants Relieve Severe Asthma

Five to 10 percent of patients with asthma have disease that can be classified as severe, meaning it is difficult to treat and often causes life-threatening breathing problems.

Five to 10 percent of patients with asthma have disease that can be classified as severe, meaning it is difficult to treat and often causes life-threatening breathing problems. Typically these patients are treated with the aim of reducing lung inflammation, but treatment often leads to devastating consequences due to steroid side effects.

As reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, researchers dubbed the condition “asthmatic granulomatosis” after the characteristic small areas of focal inflammation that can be found in the lungs of those who have it.

“We’re now learning that all severe asthma is not the same, but is in fact the result of different problems,” said Sally E. Wenzel, professor, division of pulmonary, allergy, and critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “If we better understand the underlying mechanisms that are causing the symptoms, we can offer better treatments.”

For the study, the team examined a group of patients with severe asthma who were being treated at the Difficult Asthma Clinic at the Comprehensive Lung Center of UPMC during a four-year period. Each of the patients met with a certified asthma educator; were taking high doses of inhaled steroids, with or without ingested steroids; and had been monitored for three to 24 months to optimize therapy.

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Concussions Affect College Players at High Rates Too

Concussion rates and prevention strategies at all levels continues to grow, one population that appears to have increasing head injury rates is collegiate football players.

As interest in concussion rates and prevention strategies at all levels continues to grow, one population that appears to have increasing head injury rates is collegiate football players. Research presented July 12 at the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine’s (AOSSM) Annual Meeting in Baltimore highlights that the concussion rate in three college football programs has doubled in recent years.

“We monitored concussions at three service academies in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 football seasons, and saw the combined number of reports increased from 23 to 42 in this timespan,” said Kelly G. Kilcoyne, MD, lead author from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC.

The increase comes after a 2010 NCAA concussion management initiative that requires athletic programs to report concussions signs and symptoms and then remove players from play.

“The timing of the new NCAA regulations and the increase in reported concussions could certainly be attributed to under-reporting from players and coaches in the past,” Kilcoyne said. “Such an increase is still notable, and we need continued studies in football and other sports to find out more.”

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