Friday, January 13, 2012

Let's Get Serious: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Melanoma. Men, This Is For YOU, Too!

Sometimes I don't want to sit down and write something! Sometimes I wish it wasn't necessary! Sometimes I'd love to send links around the world and put a piece of paper in every hand and a wake up call in every heart and tune every ear to listen and pay attention. Sometimes.

This is one of those times. If you have a breast or two or did, whether you're a man or woman, please keep reading. If you have any skin, whether you're a man or woman, please keep reading. If you have BOTH, whether man or woman, for goodness sake (and your own) please keep reading!

There is something going on in the world of cancer research that YOU need to know about! Not knowing can cost you your life. It can cost you the life of someone you think you can't live without. Don't stop reading because you're saying, "Well, if it's in the world of cancer research and it's important, then my doctor knows about it and that's all I need to know." You might need to take shovel in hand and start digging your own grave. I'm that serious.

We live in a world of specialized medicine and there's an excellent chance your doctor does not know that there's a definite, established link between breast cancer and melanoma (the deadliest "skin" cancer; which it really doesn't need skin to start in and it's a monster all its own...another soap box for another day). That includes oncologists who we would think would know. Make NO assumptions about what your doctor knows and doesn't know! Print out the article linked to below and hand it to him or her and say, "I've got a concern and you better take it seriously because I refuse for you to let me die." If you have had or are currently battling EITHER cancer, you need to be vigilant concerning the other.

I encourage you to read this Melanoma and Breast Cancer: A New Warning.

"If you've had breast cancer or melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer), be aware that having either one raises the odds of developing the other, according to a new study published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science.
While earlier studies have noted an association between the two malignancies, this is the first time researchers have explicitly advised doctors to monitor breast cancer patients for signs of melanoma, and vice versa. They also recommend that melanoma patients with a family history of breast cancer have regular mammographies or breast MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging)."

That's just the opening two paragraphs but I hope that has your attention and you read the article.

We live in a world that pays a great deal of attention to breast cancer, and remember, MEN get breast cancer and die from it, too. I live with melanoma and we know that the Black C gets ignored. Folks, it's time to join forces. Pinkworld needs melaworld at their table and vice versa. Science says so.

So do real life humans with real stories that are living the link. There are men and women, today, who are living with breast cancer and who also have or will have melanoma. There are men and women who have died because melanoma arrived on their scene after breast cancer. There are, likewise, men and women, today who are living with melanoma and who also have or will have breast cancer. There are men and women who have died because breast cancer arrived on their scene after melanoma. We weren't aware of the link. We are now.

Some statistics of each cancer:

 Estimated new cases and deaths from breast cancer in the United States in 2012:

New cases: 226,870 (female); 2,190 (male)
Deaths: 39,510 (female); 410 (male)

"The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates 229,060 women and men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year, and that 39,920 will die from the disease." (ACS projections for 2012. Read here).

 Estimated new cases and deaths from melanoma in the United States in 2012:

New cases: 76,250
Deaths: 9,180

"It is estimated that 70,230 men and women (40,010 men and 30,220 women) will be diagnosed with and 8,790 men and women will die of melanoma of the skin in 2011" (found here). (Notice this stat is from 2011 and the stat right above this is the 2012 projection).

Melanoma is on the rise and projected to keep rising.

"Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and incidence rates have been climbing steadily for the past 30 years. In fact, since 2004, incidence rates among whites (who are most likely to develop the disease) have been increasing by almost 3 percent per year in both men and women. Melanoma is now the fifth most common cancer among men in the US, with 44,250 expected to be diagnosed this year, and the sixth most common cancer among women, with 32,000 new cases anticipated this year. The lifetime risk of developing the disease is now 1 in 36 for men, and 1 in 55 for women." Read the entire article, "Jump in Melanoma Cases Expected in 2012".

"Perhaps dovetailing with the increased use of tanning beds, melanoma is becoming increasingly and alarmingly more common, moving from the No. 6 slot in 1997, to a projected No. 1 by the year 2022." Read the entire article.

I also encourage reading Cancer Facts and Figures 2012. Get this, "Considering all cancers, the report predicts that 1,638,910 people will be newly diagnosed with cancer this year in the United States, and 577,190 people will die from it."

That's just in the USA alone!

Melanoma is on schedule for overtaking breast cancer and all cancers in ten years. TEN years. It's climbing the cancer charts and that's not good. Mamas and Daddies, look at your little ones running around today. Children can get melanoma and breast cancer, too. So can teenagers. So can you.

Be proactive, vigilant, and know your bodies. Know the facts. Make sure your doctors know and don't assume they know. Particularly if breast cancer or melanoma is already part of your life!

Scary? You bet. It's scarier not to know and be caught off guard, though. I'm not trying to actually "scare" you into living in a state of constant panic, fear, and dread.

I want you to know. That's all. Knowledge is power.

And I am grateful.

I am also grateful that Maggie at sent this link to their page of "14 Inspiring Breast Cancer Quotes" which are great for all cancer survivors!



  1. This is scary stuff. Will inform my doc!

  2. I will definitely share, this is scary and too important not too. Sometimes I feel like I'm invading people's space and making them paranoid, but that is the "old Jen". We never think it will happen to us. If I can inform, I will. If people want to listen, they will. The good news is I get daily emails and people ARE. Once again, information IS POWER! Btw, this is Jen Christie :)

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this important information!

  4. A little worried but armed with information at least. Had Melanoma at only 22 and now I have been recalled on a Mammogram at age 33 (re-call scheduled for tomorrow). Here goes nothing

    1. Prayers are with you, friend. If you're on Facebook, please feel free to connect with me through Melanoma Prayer Center.

      I hope your Mammogram is clear of cancer. Please let me know how things go for you and if you want to talk, I'm here.


  5. My doctor actually mentioned this to me. It's really scary! Shows that more now than ever, black and pink need to unite to find a cure.

    1. I totally agree, Katie! Cancer isn't a competition. I can't imagine the strides that could be made if we joined forces. I know there are differences that have to be addressed, but much good would come from some common research efforts. And, who knows? There may be some going on that I don't know about. Hope so!

  6. I know this is an old thread, but I have Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome and have had around 10 wide excisions, some due to "severely atypical" cells, and some due to melanoma which had spread to the fat layer. I recently had an ultrasound of a breast, many cysts were seen, and two solid masses, suspected of being fibroadenomas. My gyno knew about the link between melanoma and breast cancer, so she sent me on to a breast surgeon to have biopsies just to be sure. The surgeon was an arrogant man who took one look at the ultrasounds and did not do any biopsies, he did not even feel the masses (which are palpable). I was told that I am too young to have breast cancer(25). I asked him what he thought about the connection between breast cancer and melanoma. He responded that there is no connection between the two. A breast specialist!!! How is that possible!?!? This is the last year that I will have health insurance (covered on parent's plan), and my plan does not cover a second opinion. I am so frustrated, and wonder how common it is for a BREAST SURGEON to have no knowledge about the connection between breast cancer and melanoma?! Sorry about the long post, had to get that out.

    1. There's no such thing as an "old thread" in Internetland, friend! I'm glad you found this. As you've read in the above, it's unfortunately, very common. Remember...not all "specialists" in any field are created equal. His not knowing the link is the least of your worries. He's arrogant...not good. He did NOT do any biopsies...that can kill you. He didn't even feel the masses...this guy is no "specialist" and I don't care WHAT his degree says. That's a piece of paper that's worthless. You didn't get a "first" opinion, so how can going somewhere else be a "second" opinion?

      Go back and talk to your gyno. Tell him or her what happened. Explain your insurance situation. See what they can do. Maybe your gyno can take care of this.

      If worst comes to worst, and your gyno can't do this and if you appeal to your insurance and they still won't work with you...suck it up and go somewhere else on your own and work out a payment plan. You're worth it. And let me know what happens!!!!

    2. PS, friend, please connect with me, if you'd like, on Melanoma Prayer Center on Facebook and find support there, as well.

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Thank you.