Fighting: John Frost, 87, is an ex-groundsman on Lord & # 39; s cricket ground in North London
John Frost almost paid a heavy price for a career that many would have envied.
As a former groundsman on Lord & # 39; s cricket ground in North London, he has spent much of his working hours bathing in the hot sun.
& # 39; I love being outside & # 39 ;, he says. But in December 2016, he developed a malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, associated with skin damage caused by a high level of sun exposure.
There are approximately 16,000 new cases of malignant melanoma each year and the incidence of the disease is increasing. Chemotherapy often does not work and every year it claims around 2,300 lives.
& # 39; I went to see a doctor about something else when he saw a bad mole on my back & # 39 ;, says John, 86, who lives in Wimbledon Chase, South West London, with his wife Patricia, 84.
& # 39; He sent me directly to the hospital, where they found another suspicious mole on my shoulder. They removed them a few days later and sent them for analysis, confirming malignant melanoma. I was worried but they said I didn't need treatment anymore. I thought that was the end. & # 39;
Within a few weeks, growth returned to John's back.
& # 39; In January 2017, it was the size of a 10p & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; This time, they extracted tissue around it that left a 6 cm scar. & # 39;
It seemed certain that John & # 39; s cancer with fatal consequences would return, but with the help of a radically new approach, he has gained hope.
Angus Dalgleish, professor of oncology at St George & # 39; s Hospital in London, is one of the growing number of clinicians researching the role of vitamin D in cancer treatment. "We know that vitamin D is involved in regulating the immune system and seems to dampen the proliferation of cancer cells," he says.
& # 39; We also know that some cancer patients with a low vitamin D will live longer if you give them a supplement.
& # 39; We have more than 2,000 cancer patients where we have shown this and we have published several articles, but there is resistance to recognition, possibly because there is not much money to be gained from it. & # 39;
NICE guidelines recognize studies that show that melanoma patients with a low vitamin D are more likely to die, but say that more research is needed to prove that vitamin D has a protective effect. After John's second operation, a blood test showed that his vitamin D level was only 18 g / ml (the normal is at least 25 g / ml).
& # 39; Professor Dalgleish has prescribed a very high vitamin D dose for me to take daily and now the level is 100 & # 39 ;, says John. & # 39; I have had five checks since then and so far the cancer has not returned. & # 39;
Fact: NICE guidelines show that melanoma patients with a low vitamin D will die sooner
Sir: It seemed certain that John's cancer with fatal consequences would return, but with the help of a radically new approach, he has gained hope
Professor Dalgleish, who is not affiliated with supplement manufacturers, claims that the evidence for a link between low vitamin D and cancer is increasing.
& # 39; New data is published every month & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; A five-year study involving more than 21,000 Australians led by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, comparing the number of deaths and cancer cases among those taking vitamin D supplements and placebo, will be later provide more evidence this year. & # 39;
Julia Newton-Bishop, a professor of dermatology at the University of Leeds, has investigated the possible link. & # 39; It is not unusual for melanoma patients to relapse after many years, & # 39; she says.
& # 39; Immunity has been reduced somehow or something is happening in the patient's environment that causes the melanoma to grow. We asked those who had a relapse in their lifestyle and found that they were taking less vitamin D. We have also checked around 1,000 melanoma patients since 2009 and found that those with a low vitamin D performed less well. We have tried to find out what is happening in the cells to cause this and hope that our work will be published later this year. & # 39;
Keith Harrison, 72, a taxi driver from Sanderstead, Surrey, believes that vitamin D has changed his health. In 2009 he had a melanoma on the inside of his right leg that was removed from his groin with nine lymph nodes.
"They told me that melanoma is linked to vitamin D and my blood level was very low," says Keith, who is married to Pamela, 72. Since then, he has been taking a daily dose. & # 39; I play grassy bowls, so I'm out for about three hours every day, but I haven't had a cancer recurrence, "he says.
Other experts emphasize more evidence before vitamin D can be recommended to cancer patients. Martin Ledwick, information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said: & It seems that something happens if you have vitamin D deficiency and you have melanoma – you have worse results. The NICE guideline says that if you are deficient in vitamin D, you should take a supplement, and that is something that we would support. & # 39;
Despite her research in the area, Professor Newton-Bishop adds that the role of vitamin D is not fully understood – and warns that there is also some evidence that overdose can damage the immune system, so it is important to follow the recommended daily dose .
& # 39; The most important data is based on a shortage & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; I am aware not to say the more you take, the better. Rather, it is about not getting the level below 25. & # 39;
WHAT IS MELANOME AND HOW CAN YOU AVOID IT?
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It happens after the DNA in skin cells is damaged (usually as a result of harmful UV rays) and has not been repaired, causing mutations that can form malignant tumors.
The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 91,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2018 in the US and that more than 9,000 people are expected to die from it.
Every year around 15,900 new cases occur in the UK, of which the British die in 2016 from 2285 Britons, according to the statistics from Cancer Research UK.
- Exposure to the sun: UV and UVB rays from the sun and tanning beds are harmful to the skin
- Moles: the more moles you have, the greater the risk of getting melanoma
- Skin type: nicer skin has a greater risk of getting melanoma
- Hair color: red heads are more at risk than others
- Personal history: once you have had a melanoma, you are more likely to get it again
- Family history: if previous family members have been diagnosed, this increases your risk
This can be done by removing the entire part of the tumor or by removing the surgeon layer by layer. When a surgeon removes it layer by layer, this helps them figure out where exactly the cancer stops, so they don't have to remove more skin than necessary.
The patient may decide to use a skin graft if the operation has left a discoloration or mark.
- Immunotherapy, radiation or chemotherapy:
This is necessary if the cancer reaches phase III or IV. That means that the cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body.
- Use sunscreen and do not burn
- Avoid tanning outside and in beds
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside
- Keep newborns out of the sun
- Examine your skin every month
- Consult your doctor every year for a skin test
Source: Skin Cancer Foundation and American Cancer Society
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