In recognition of May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we thought we would talk about the ongoing battle with Melanoma which is the 5th most common cancer in the UK.

It is more common in older people; however, it is relatively frequent in younger people.

What is the main cause of Skin Cancer?

UV exposure from the sun is one of the main causes of skin cancer and also one of the most preventable. This campaign hopes to reduce instances of skin cancer and increase the likelihood of early detection through education.

What’s currently happening in the fight against Skin Cancer?

In 2015 about 16,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with melanoma, and within the last decade this number has risen by almost 50%. Over 2,500 of these people will develop advanced disease.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause damage to the skin cells and lead to skin cancer. (Photo from Pexels)

Treatment of Advanced Melanoma has lately been transformed by producing immunotherapies and targeted inhibitors in the treatment of patients who cannot be cured by surgery.

Oxford’s researchers have a broad range of scientific backgrounds and expertise and are focused on trying to develop novel immunotherapies (such as innate immune stimulators and oncolytic viruses) to treat Melanoma.

They are also interested in how the behaviour of melanoma cells can change under stress. Other scientists are working on better tests to predict who benefits from new treatments, like immunotherapy, and to identify who is likely to get side effects.

One example of the type of projects Oxford researchers have been involved in is the early clinical development of the new drug IMCgp100.

What is IMCgp100?

MCgp100 is a bispecific antibody, meaning that it binds to two proteins at the same time. It works with immune T-cells. Part of IMCgp100 is a modified T-cell receptor that targets a

protein called gp100 in melanoma cells. The other part is an antibody fragment that targets CD3, a protein receptor found on the surface of T-cells.

It has shown promise in treating Melanoma patients, whose cancer cannot be removed with surgery or has spread to other parts of the body.

What can you do to help prevent or protect yourself from Skin Cancer?

Firstly, it’s very important to avoid getting sunburned! That means wearing sun cream of factor 15 or 30 every day.

Dermatologists now recommend daily use of sun cream as one of the best ways to protect your skin wherever you are in the world. That means cold countries and hot countries, in winter and summer.

Clothing is another thing that you can use to protect yourself from the sun. Dark clothes absorb sunlight, so light colours will keep you cooler.

Researchers are looking at a type of cell called stem cells. Stem cells help keep normal skin healthy. (Photo by Pexels)

But covering your body with clothes will also shield you from the sun’s harmful rays!

What does the Skin Cancer Foundation do to help?

The Skin Cancer Foundation run campaigns every Skin Cancer Awareness month. This includes online campaigns such as ‘#SharetheFacts’ which encourages people to download a pack of images with helpful information, facts and figures about skin cancer and how to detect it.

During the pandemic, they began hosting Virtual Galas that give people an opportunity to hear more about the work that they do and where the money they raise goes.

They also encourage people to run their own fundraisers. Fundraising money for cancer charities is a great way to contribute to the fight against cancer. More money means more scientific research, which will lead to more cures and treatments, and fewer people dying from cancer.