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CU Cancer Center News and Stories


Research    Melanoma    Dermatology    Immunology & Microbiology

‘Trust In Yourself’: Mayumi Fujita, MD, PhD, Has Overcome Challenges in Her Cancer Research Career

Mayumi Fujita, MD, PhD, says she is not someone who has had a straightforward path for her career or her life.

Author Mark Harden | Publish Date May 20, 2024
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Skin Cancer    Melanoma    rare disease

What Is the Rare Melanoma That Killed Bob Marley?

Some of the most dramatic scenes in the new Bob Marley biopic, “Bob Marley: One Love” have to do with the reggae legend’s battle with a rare cancer called acral lentiginous melanoma. Unlike melanomas that are caused by sun exposure, acral lentiginous melanomas form on non-hair-bearing surfaces of the body, including the palms of the hand, the soles and heels of the feet, and the nailbeds of the fingers and toes. 

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date March 29, 2024
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Skin Cancer    Melanoma   

Drawing on Data and Imagery in the Fight Against Melanoma

A recent study of a type of immune blood cells associated with resistance to certain treatments for melanoma is one sign of the growing role of data science in solving some of medicine’s most puzzling riddles, says Hatim Sabaawy, MD, PhD, associate director of translational research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

Author Mark Harden | Publish Date December 11, 2023
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Research    Melanoma    Immunotherapy   

R01 Grant Will Help Find a Way to Overcome Resistance to Immunotherapy in Melanoma  

Melanoma cells can hide, but they can’t run from Eduardo Davila, PhD, associate director of cancer research training and education coordination at the University of Colorado Cancer Center

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date July 26, 2023
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Research    Melanoma

Drug Combination for Stage 4 Melanoma Shows Success in CU Cancer Center Trial

A new multidrug treatment for patients with stage 4 melanoma has proven effective after a three-year clinical trial at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date December 15, 2022
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Research    Melanoma

A Potential Way Around Immunotherapy Resistance 

The development of the anti-cancer immunotherapy drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors has improved treatment for many cancer patients, but patients with mucosal melanomas — melanomas that occur not on the skin but in the mucous membranes in the head, neck, eyes, respiratory tract, and genitourinary region — are particularly resistant to immune checkpoint inhibitors for reasons researchers don’t fully understand. 

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date April 25, 2022
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Patient Care    Lung Cancer    Prostate Cancer    Melanoma    Immunotherapy   

Acknowledging the Fears of Cancer by Giving Them a Face and a Name

To understand why Beau Gill built a mental cupboard for Jeff and Spike, first you must travel back with him to the small town of Catemaco in Mexico’s state of Veracruz.

Author Rachel Sauer | Publish Date April 20, 2022
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Research    Melanoma    Surgical Oncology   

Changing the Standard of Care for Stage III Melanoma Surgery 

For years, surgery for patients with stage III melanoma — melanoma that has spread to the lymph nodes — involved removing those lymph nodes along with the primary tumor. Known as completion lymph node dissection (CLND), the surgery was meant to ensure that no cancer remained after surgery.

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date March 04, 2022
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Research    Breast Cancer    Pediatric Cancer    Melanoma    Funding

CU Cancer Center Members Receive Grants to Conduct High-Tech Research 

The Tumor-Host Interactions Program (THI) at the University of Colorado Cancer Center has awarded four CU Cancer Center researchers $30,000 each to gain preliminary data using the Multiplex Ion Beam Imager (MIBI) housed in the cancer center’s Human Immune Monitoring Shared Resource (HIMSR) to support a competitive national grant proposal. The selected researchers are expected to submit a national competitive grant proposal within six months of completing their THI-MIBI pilot studies.  

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date February 10, 2022
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Research    Melanoma    Surgical Oncology

AB Nexus Funds Intercampus Research on Sepsis

Looking to improve methods to treat patients with sepsis, Richard Tobin, PhD, an assistant research professor of surgical oncology in the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Laurel Hind, PhD, an assistant professor in the biomedical engineering program at the University of Colorado Boulder, are teaming up to study the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in sepsis.

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date November 29, 2021
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Research    Melanoma

Why Don’t Adrenal Gland Metastases Respond to Immunotherapy?

Recent advances in immunotherapy have allowed doctors at the University of Colorado Cancer Center to more effectively treat melanomas that spread to other parts of the body. Immunotherapy drugs such as checkpoint inhibitors, which are commonly used to treat melanomas, work to strengthen a patient’s immune system so that it can prevent a tumor from “turning off” the ability of the immune system to fight it.

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date September 23, 2021
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Innovation    Melanoma

A New Drug Combination to Treat Mucosal Melanomas

Though people most often think of melanoma as affecting the skin, the cancer can occur anywhere in the body where pigment-producing melanocyte cells are found. That includes mucous membranes in the head, neck, eyes, respiratory tract, and genitourinary region.

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date June 23, 2021
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Research    Melanoma

A Drug That Can Stop Tumors From Growing

Cancer doctors may soon have a new tool for treating melanoma and other types of cancer, thanks to work being done by researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date April 06, 2021
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Community    Skin Cancer    Magazine    Melanoma

Prevent Cancer Foundation Grant Will Help Researcher in Fight Against Melanoma

CU Cancer Center member Neil Box, PhD, is on a quest to decrease the deadly effects of melanoma.

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date February 09, 2021
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Patient Care    Skin Cancer    Magazine    Melanoma

Melanoma Skin Cancer Clinical Trial Provides Hope When Options Looked Bleak

“For Christmas, we took a family photo with all the grandkids,” says Sam’s wife, Janet. She went on to explain, “The kids wanted to take this photo because they thought Sam would not be here next Christmas.”

Author Jessica Cordova | Publish Date May 26, 2020
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Skin Cancer    Melanoma

Does getting a suntan really protect against burns that cause skin cancer?

We all know that in the spring or before going on a beach vacation, it’s important to get a solid tan so that we don’t get burned. After all, it’s sun burns and not sun tans that cause skin cancer, right? Not so fast, says Neil Box, PhD, University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator and president of the Colorado Melanoma Foundation.

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date May 18, 2020
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COVID-19    Melanoma    Climate Science

Sun protection strategies for COVID19 outdoor recreation

During COVID19, getting outside for socially distanced activities is one of the few forms of available recreation. But more people getting out also means more sun exposure, and so during Skin Cancer Awareness Month, University of Colorado Cancer Center reached out to one of our members, Neil Box, PhD, president of the Colorado Melanoma Foundation, to learn about the risks and how to stay safe.

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date May 11, 2020
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Melanoma    Clinical Research

7-year study supports clinical trial of retinoic acid against stage IV melanoma

In melanoma, myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are bad – the more MDSCs, the poorer a patient’s prognosis. That’s because when these MDSCs expand to accumulate near melanoma tissue and in blood circulation, they suppress the immune system so that it doesn’t attack the cancer. But how do MDSCs expand and how do they accumulate near melanoma tissue?

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date December 04, 2019
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Research    Melanoma

New Colorado Center for Rare Melanomas leads research, treatment efforts

When you think of melanoma, you picture the sun. But there is another class of these dangerous cancers that has nothing to do with sun exposure. Mucosal melanomas arise seemingly spontaneously from mucosal tissues, accounting for about 1.3 percent of all melanomas. In part because most of these tissues are hidden, mucosal melanomas tend to be diagnosed late. Late diagnosis combined with lack of response to many newer treatments (especially immunotherapies), leads to a 5-year survival rate for rare melanomas less than half that of the more common form of the disease.

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date November 20, 2019
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Awareness    Melanoma

Jeremy Hugh,MD, to run Boston for melanoma awareness

Boston-area native, Jeremy Hugh, MD, willing to be photographed with wife wearing Yankees hat

There are marathons and then there’s the Boston Marathon, when the city takes a holiday and 500,000 people line the streets ten-deep to cheer on runners from all over the world. This year, Jeremy Hugh, who was born just north of Boston in Nashua, NH, will be running with them.

“My birthday is within a few days of the marathon and my dad and I always used to go down to watch. I’ve been to I don’t even know how many Boston Marathons, since about age five, all through college at U. Mass, until heading off for med school in New York,” says Hugh, who is a University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator and skin cancer specialist at Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center.

There are two ways to earn an invite to run the Boston Marathon. First, you can be astoundingly fast, running a qualifying time of about three hours for Hugh’s age group; or second, you can fundraise for one of the marathon’s charities. Hugh chose the second option, and maybe it’s not a surprise that he chose to fundraise for IMPACT Melanoma, an organization that raises awareness about the need for sun protection to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

“I’ve been wanting to do it and figured now is a good time. We’re probably going to start a family soon and so now seems like the best time to train. I started looking into it the last couple years and decided to apply this year,” Hugh says.

According to Hugh, melanoma is one of the cancers for which awareness makes a big difference.

Jeremy Hugh, MD (left) with CU Cancer Center dermatology colleague, Neil Box, MD, offering free skin cancer screening at the Denver Veteran’s Day parade.

“If you get it early enough, it’s not that big of a deal, but if not, there’s a pretty good chance of dying from it. What that means is that awareness is a big deal – it’s something where awareness can have a big impact,” says Hugh, who recently volunteered with the Sun Bus to offer free skin cancer screenings at the Denver Veteran’s Day parade.

Not only does Hugh spend his own time offering free skin cancer screenings and fundraising for IMPACT Melanoma, but he recently wrote a scientific paper using the organization’s data on how the placement of free sunscreen dispensers affects awareness of skin cancer risk and sun-safe behaviors.

“The other thing they do is educate people who do hair or work in nail salons, massage therapists, etc., so if they see something suspicious, they can send people to a dermatologist. Plenty of times in my short career that’s the reason someone with melanoma comes to us,” Hugh says.

If you’re thinking about helping Dr. Hugh raise money for the race, here’s a little something to sweeten the deal: a $25 donation to his team earns entry into a raffle supported by Dr. Hugh’s dermatologist friends (specify if you’d like to be in any of the drawings when you donate!). Prizes include an area of Botox ($300 value), a $300 credit at the cosmetics center, or a vial of Jovederm filler treatment at the CU Boulder Dermatology office ($575 value).

“This was my city growing up, and the marathon is an iconic thing that Boston has,” Hugh says. “I feel lucky to be able to combine this event that has always meant so much to me with my current work in skin cancer. If feels like a real milestone.”

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date November 18, 2019
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Melanoma    Immunotherapy

Is your melanoma hot enough for immunotherapy?

Melanomas tend to be “hot” or “cold” – if they’re hot, immunotherapy lights melanoma tumors like beacons for elimination by the immune system; but 40-50 percent of melanomas are cold, making them invisible to the immune system, and patients with cold tumors tend to show little benefit from immunotherapies. The problem is that it’s been impossible to distinguish a hot melanoma from a cold one – the solution has been to administer immunotherapy and hope for the best, often leading to wasted time and resources. Now a University of Colorado Cancer Center study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019 identifies a possible way to predict which melanomas are hot and cold: Tumors with mutations in genes leading to over-activation of the NF-kB signaling pathway were more than three times as likely to respond to anti-PD1 immunotherapy compared with tumors in which these changes were absent.

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date April 02, 2019
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Research    Faculty    Skin Cancer    Melanoma

Will One Bad Sunburn Give You Skin Cancer?

It seems like everybody’s got a story about that “one bad burn” – the time you fell asleep next to the pool and tattooed a white handprint on your lobster-red chest, or forgot to pack the sunscreen while hiking a Colorado 14er. As you know, sunburn increases your chance of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. But what about just one bad burn? And what can you do about it now?

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date July 27, 2015
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CU Cancer Center In the News

The Conversation

Lung cancer is the deadliest of all cancers, and screening could save many lives − if more people could access it

news outletThe Conversation
Publish DateMay 13, 2024

Despite being the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, Nina Thomas, MD, shares that lung cancer has a significantly lower screening rate compared to other common cancers. Various barriers, including lack of awareness, misconceptions, geographic and socioeconomic disparities, and stigma surrounding smoking, contribute to this low rate. Lung cancer screening, recommended for high-risk individuals, involves a low-dose CT scan that is quick, non-invasive, and effective in detecting early-stage cancer. Efforts to improve screening rates focus on public education, reducing disparities, and destigmatizing lung cancer and smoking.

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Bradley Corr, MD, on the Rationale for Investigating Rucaparib Maintenance in Endometrial Cancer

news outletOncLive
Publish DateMay 10, 2024

Bradley R. Corr, MD, explores the rationale and results of a phase 2 trial comparing rucaparib to placebo as maintenance therapy for metastatic and recurrent endometrial cancer. Discover the significant progression-free survival improvements and implications for patients in this insightful discussion.

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The Colorado Sun

The lucky ones: Former world champion’s life was saved by a clinical trial. Now she wants others to get the chance.

news outletThe Colorado Sun
Publish DateApril 26, 2024

Siri Lindley, a former world champion triathlete, faced her toughest challenge when diagnosed with a rare, aggressive leukemia. Visualizing her favorite mountain trail helped her endure the grueling treatment. She approached cancer like a triathlon, with determination and hope, eventually lobbying for improved access to medical trials. Thanks to a groundbreaking trial at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, she's now cancer-free, living a new life filled with gratitude and a renewed love for sports.

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Medical Xpress

Writing to wellness: New therapy helps cancer patients face biggest fears

news outletMedical Xpress
Publish DateApril 22, 2024

CU Cancer Center Member Joanna Arch developed EASE therapy for late-stage cancer patients, based on written exposure therapy, to address their unique fears and anxieties. Participants write about their greatest cancer-related fears and explore coping strategies. Results show significant improvements in mental health and well-being.

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