MPIP: Melanoma Patients Information Page

The MPIP is the oldest and largest community of people affected by melanoma hosted through the Melanoma Research Foundation. It is designed to provide support and information to caregivers, patients, family and friends. Once you have been touched by melanoma—either as a patient or as a family member or friend of a patient—you become part of a community. It is not a community anyone joins willingly. But if you must be part of this group, you will find no better place to find the tools you need in your journey with this cancer, and the friends who can make that journey more bearable.

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Low Oxygen Levels Could Drive Cancer Growth, Research Suggests

ScienceDaily (May 3, 2012) — Low oxygen levels in cells may be a primary cause of uncontrollable tumor growth in some cancers, according to a new University of Georgia study. The authors' findings run counter to widely accepted beliefs that genetic mutations are responsible for cancer growth.


If hypoxia, or low oxygen levels in cells, is proven to be a key driver of certain types of cancer, treatment plans for curing the malignant growth could change in significant ways, said Ying Xu, Regents-Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and professor of bioinformatics and computational biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

The research team analyzed samples of messenger RNA data-also called transcriptomic data-from seven different cancer types in a publicly available database. They found that long-term lack of oxygen in cells may be a key driver of cancer growth. The study was published in the early online edition of the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology.

Previous studies have linked low oxygen levels in cells as a contributing factor in cancer development, but not as the driving force for cancer growth. High incidence rates of cancer around the world cannot be explained by chance genetic mutations alone, Xu said. He added that bioinformatics, which melds biology and computational science, has allowed researchers to see cancer in a new light. Gene-level mutations may give cancer cells a competitive edge over healthy cells, but the proposed new cancer growth model does not require the presence of common malfunctions such as a sudden proliferation of oncogenes, precursors to cancer cells.

"Cancer drugs try to get to the root -- at the molecular level -- of a particular mutation, but the cancer often bypasses it," Xu said. "So we think that possibly genetic mutations may not be the main driver of cancer."

Much of cancer research so far has focused on designing drug treatments that counteract genetic mutations associated with a particular type of cancer. In their study, the researchers analyzed data downloaded from the Stanford Microarray Database via a software program to detect abnormal gene expression patterns in seven cancers: breast, kidney, liver, lung, ovary, pancreatic and stomach. The online database allows scientists to examine information from microarray chips, which are small glass slides containing large amounts of gene material.

Xu relied on the gene HIF1A as a biomarker of the amount of molecular oxygen in a cell. All seven cancers showed increasing amounts of HIF1A, indicating decreasing oxygen levels in the cancer cells.

Low oxygen levels in a cell interrupt the activity of oxidative phosphorylation, a term for the highly efficient way that cells normally use to convert food to energy. As oxygen decreases, the cells switch to glycolysis to produce their energy units, called ATP. Glycolysis is a drastically less efficient way to obtain energy, and so the cancer cells must work even harder to obtain even more food, specifically glucose, to survive. When oxygen levels dip dangerously low, angiogenesis, or the process of creating new blood vessels, begins. The new blood vessels provide fresh oxygen, thus improving oxygen levels in the cell and tumor and slowing the cancer growth-but only temporarily.

"When a cancer cell gets more food, it grows; this makes the tumor biomass bigger and even more hypoxic. In turn, the energy-conversion efficiency goes further down, making the cells even more hungry and triggering the cells to get more food from blood circulation, creating a vicious cycle. This could be a key driver of cancer," Xu said.

Xu explained that this new cancer-growth model could help explain why many cancers become drug resistant so quickly-often within three to six months. He stressed the importance of testing the new model through future experimental cancer research. If the model holds, researchers will need to search for methods to prevent hypoxia in cells in the first place, which could result in a sea change in cancer treatment.

Additional authors of this study include Juan Cui, Xizeng Mao and Victor Olman, all of UGA, and Phil Hastings of Baylor College of Medicine. Xu also has a joint appointment with Jilin University in China.

I'm me, not a statistic. Praying to not be one for years yet.

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Anonymous's picture
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RESEARCH SEMINAR: Thursday, May 10th • 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

“Melanoma 2012: Transforming Cancer
Treatment Paradigms”
Steven J. O’Day, M.D.

Beverly Hills Cancer Center

8150 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048

CONTACT : Heather Grant  (323) 307-6921 (323) 307-6921

Hors d'oeuvre and beverages provided • Free parking in the rear of the building

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 5/4/2012 - 11:47am
Replies by: Janner, lhaley

I found out one of the moles I had removed was a severly atypical with some signs it could be melanoma in situ.  So very severly.  They say this is good.  Just need it taken off then good to go.  Not a reason to lose sleep they say.  So do I need to treat my skin different?  Do I need to cover up in sun as extremely as a melanoma patient?  Or as Dr says am I good to go?

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deardad's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 5/4/2012 - 7:17pm

Such bad news today and I'm devasted. My dad has 6 new brain mets and progression through the body.

They are starting WBR next week and he is starting Temolozide tomorrow. So sad...what can I expect can someone please advise me.

Thank you in advance.


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Anonymous's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 5/4/2012 - 9:59am
Replies by: SoCalDave

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Gene_S's picture
Replies 15
Last reply 5/20/2012 - 8:44pm

I had my scans on Friday and the results are great.

One small 1.3 mm lesion left out of 9 and it is almost immeasurable.  We are so excited can't wait to say NED.

Just for those that don't know Gene he is on the clinical trial with Ipi at 10 mg/kg and GMCSF self shots 14 days on and 7 days off.  He has been receiving Ipi after the initial 4 doses every 12 weeks on the maintenance part of this trial.  He started it on Mar. 3, 2011.  After 4 surgeries he had an inoperable lesion on the head at the C1-2 level.  He also had 3 sub q's in the same area and it had metastisized to the liver and lungs as well.

We are very pleased with these results and wish to share so we can give others hope.  You can check his profile for more information on his journey which started in Jan. 2008.

Judy (loving wife and caregiver of Gene Stage IV and almost NED).

Live 4 today. Thank God for all he has done for us. Looking forward to enjoying tomorrow.

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 5/4/2012 - 2:03am
Replies by: Bob B.

Spring Symposium 2012 

Translating Melanoma Research to Improved Patient Care 

Following the presentation, a panel of long-term survivors will share their experiences and stories of survivorship.

An opportunity for education, discussion & connection for patients,

survivors, families & friends 

Tuesday, May 8, 6:30 – 9:00 pm 

Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Jimmy Fund Auditorium

35 Binney Street, Boston, MA 

Luke 1:37

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aldakota22's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 5/3/2012 - 3:29pm
Replies by: washoegal

 Best freind saw doc. after severe back pain.Originally thought was a pulled muscle.Initial diagnosis is a tumor on his windpipe.Any advise to give him to at least give him a fighting chance against this form of lung cancer.A lifetime smoker since the Viet Nam War.Thanks for any input.    Al

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 5/5/2012 - 4:50pm
Replies by: Joan C, Anonymous, Linny, SoCalDave, natasha, gabsound

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Drew N's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 5/22/2012 - 2:49pm
Replies by: Drew N, lhaley, melmar

Nice to be able to repeat that title. I went to MDA and had the full lookover Monday, including x-rays and CT. All clear. That's three years out from the end of 30 days of INF. I am very, very grateful for the days I've had, and even more grateful for promising treatments in case I need some help.


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triciad's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 5/3/2012 - 6:33am

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick question...what makes an oncologist look for brain mets?  Is there anything that shows up in the blood?  I've been sent for a brain MRI, so I'm just wondering if he saw something that he didn't tell me.

Thanks for any help about this.

As always...continue the fight!


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alicia's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 5/6/2012 - 12:20am

Hello Friends, Just wanted to thank you for your prayers and support.  I was very anxious about this  PET scan I had last friday, especially after watching my best friend pass away from melanoma just two months ago.  we started out at the same stage so it was very hard and I was nervous that it could be spreading inside of me.  Anyways thankfully my PET scan showed" no hypermetabolic uptake in the lung nodule or hilar lymph node at this time."  I'm so super excited about this news and just wanted to share it with the rest of you:-)  I go today for surgery to do a 5mm wide excision of a severly atypical mole (this is my 5th I think atypical area having excised) that wasn't fully excised during biopsy and i'm a little nervous about that but very thankful after today I don't go back to the dr until June:-)  Much love to you all,


Alicia B. stage III(+SNB) interferon, 3 primary melanomas (stage 1, stage 2, and stage 3) and 5 atypical lesions.......but who's counting;-)

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rjcravens's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 5/2/2012 - 10:02pm

Okay, i just finished my one year of interferon treatment on friday, even though i cussed, screamed, cried and laughed each day i had to do the injections and threatens to quit them. (My poor husband, as i am yelling this is my last dose, i cant do this anymore, he replies okay honey whatever you decide, knowing i wouuldnt quit. I go make on May 25th for my pet scan / mri/ restaging. The questions i have:

I feel helpless. I am driving my anxiety to a new level because i have lost the feeling of control that i had over preventing this beast from coming back. (Not that i ever really had controll) but i feel like i am just watch and wait mode and i am not surei can handle that

I am having these headaches on top of my head to back of my head for about three days, it that expected.

Last thing, about a month ago i went to endocronologist and he said i only have half of thyroid and diagnosed me with Hasimotos thyroid. Started me on 25 of synthroid. I feel like a walking waterbottle. I feel so bloated and constantly hungery no matter how much i eat. I also get winded quickly. Almost like signs and symptoms of congested heart failure. I am 35, is this what i am going to feel like the rest of my life?

Thank you for all your support.

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benp's picture
Replies 8
Last reply 5/14/2012 - 7:23pm

Does anyone know if there is an optiomal ordering of these two therapies?

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