Posted on

More Than 11 Moles On The Arm Could Predict Future Cancer Risk

Having more than 11 moles on your right arm could raise the risk of getting skin cancer in the future, research has suggested. Researchers said they have found a new way for GP’s to quickly assess whether somebody may be at risk of developing melanoma by counting moles on a “proxy” body area such as the arm or the leg, according to experts from King’s College London.

Around 20% to 40% of melanoma is thought to arise from pre-existing moles. Having more than 100 moles on the body is a “strong predictor” of developing melanoma. The study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, examined data from 3,594 female twins. Specially trained nurses from St Thomas’ hospital in London performed a mole count on 17 areas on each person’s body. Skin type, hair and eye colour and freckles were also recorded in the research.


The results were checked against a further study involving men and women. Scientists found that the count of moles on the right arm was most predictive of how many moles were on the entire body. Those people with more than seven moles on their right arm had nine times the risk of having over 50 on the whole body, while those with more than 11 were more likely to have more than 100.

The experts found that the area above the right elbow was particularly predictive of the total body count of moles. The legs were also strongly linked with the total count, while men’s backs also highlighted as an increased risk. The researchers concluded: “We demonstrated that arm mole count of more than 11 is associated with a significant risk of having more than 100 moles, that is in itself a strong predictor of risk for melanoma.”

Lead author Simone Ribero, of the department of twin research and genetic epidemiology at King’s, said: “The findings could have a significant impact for primary care, allowing GPs to more accurately estimate the total number of moles in a patient extremely quickly via an easily accessible body part. This would mean that more patients at risk of melanoma can be identified and monitored.”

Dr Claire Knight, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said the finding could be useful because lots of moles makes it a higher risk for melanoma in the future. Other risk factors for melanoma include having red or fair hair, fair skin, light-coloured eyes or having been sunburnt in the past. “But less than half of melanomas develop from existing moles. So it’s important to know what’s normal for your skin and to tell your doctor about any change in the size, shape, colour or feel of a mole or a normal patch of skin. And don’t just look at your arms – melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, and is most common on the trunk in men and the legs in women.”

Posted on

Could The Cure For Cancer Have Been Found By Accident?

There are some accidents you can forgive. Like possibly discovering the cure for cancer. According to a recent study, a group of Danish scientists might have done just that by discovering that a potential malaria vaccine had the unexpected side effect of destroying and killing tumours.

Malaria is a blood borne disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite. It is spread through humans by the bites of mosquitos and, according to UNICEF, kills over a million people around the world every year. Malaria is especially dangerous for pregnant women as the parasite may attack the placenta, which puts the child’s life at risk. In their ongoing efforts to prevent these specific infections, scientists from the University of Denmark made a remarkable observation: Due to the similar characteristics between tumours and placentas, the same technique malaria uses to attack and destroy placentas, it could also be used to destroy cancer tumours.


“The placenta is an organ, which within a few months grows from only few cells into an organ weighing approximately 2 pounds, and it provides the embryo with oxygen and nourishment in a relatively foreign environment,” study author Ali Salanti said in a statement. “In a manner of speaking, tumours do much the same — they grow aggressively in a relatively foreign environment.”

The researchers attempted to improve on this natural design by attaching a cancer-killing toxin to the malaria protein. They found that the combination was highly lethal; in lab tests, it was up to 90 percent effective in destroying various cancer cells. The lethal combination was also tested successfully in mice that were implanted with different types of human cancers. And while it may seem jarring to trade off cancer for malaria, Thomas Mandel Clausen, a PhD student involved with the research, explained that the malaria protein only attaches on to the tumour “without any significant attachment to other tissue.”
It will be at least four years before the treatment will be available to test on humans, and researchers are hopeful it’ll be a significant step forward in cancer treatment research. However, since the protein they use attaches to carbohydrates found only in the placenta and cancer tumours, this life-saving characteristic will make the treatment too dangerous for cancer treatment in pregnant women. “Expressed in popular terms, the toxin will believe that the placenta is a tumour and kill it, in exactly the same way it will believe that a tumour is a placenta,” Salanti said.
Posted on

New Report States 75% of NHS Hospitals Are ‘Unsafe’

Almost three quarters of hospitals run by the NHS have been called “unsafe” for patients in a damning report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

74% of the 150 hospital trusts inspected by the health regulator in the last year have been classed as “requires improvement” or “inadequate” when it comes to ensuring patient safety.

In the report it said: “Our inspections have highlighted examples of poor safety cultures, a lack of processes and, in some cases, disregard for patients’ safety.”

They highlighted several concerns in particular such as cases where non-medically trained staff such as A&E receptionists were being forced to triage patients because there were no medical staff avalargeilable at the time or no medical staff within the vicinity.

They also highlighted not completed safety checks, disregard for infection control practices, ineffective management of medicine and members of staff not receiving the correct training.

Overall, two thirds of NHS hospitals were deemed to be “requiring improvement” or “inadequate” within the report from the State of Care.

The chief executive of CQC, David Behan, said: “A key concern has been the safety of the care – a failure to learn when things go wrong, or not having the right number of staff in place with the right skills.”

“Where people are not receiving the quality of care they deserve, we will demand action – and we are now able to demonstrate that half of services have improved following re-inspection. Some services may need further support to improve, and we will continue to work with partners to ensure this happens.”

But Katherine Murphy, the chief executive of the Patients Association campaign group, said that she found the figures “worrying”.

She said: “It is worrying to see that there is still such variation in the quality of care being delivered.

“This cannot continue. The safety of patients should be the primary concern of all healthcare professionals.”