Pancreatic Cancer and Melanoma Connection
For sometime now there has been research showing that people with melanoma are also predisposed to pancreatic cancer. Our daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with melanoma in March of 2004. Her husband had noticed an unusual mole on her back after returning from their honeymoon in Hawaii. He said the mole was not there in Hawaii in November. Her dermatologist thought it was just a mole but after removing and testing, they scheduled her for surgery within 4 days! She underwent surgery and the site of the mole on her back was removed as well as lymph nodes under her arm. She had a scar shaped like a curved capital E on her back .. the curve about 12 inches long, the short line about 4 inches long. Many people do not know the difference between melanoma and basal cell skin cancer. There is a WORLD of difference. One should research the differences. Melanoma moves fast!! We were told that the cancer had not spread and we rejoiced. No one told us there had been research connecting people with melanoma to a predisposition to other types of cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. Melanoma and pancreatic cancer are two of the most deadly cancers. About September 20th of 2006, Katie was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. She was pregnant finally and we had all been so happy for her and her husband... indeed all her family and friends had been so happy and excited. She lost their baby girl on October 11, 2006 and she died November 25, 2006. TWO months... she lived two months following her diagnosis. She was 32 years old. You can read her story at on Care Pages . Her page is listed as "katieshug". You can reverse the posts by her husband to see the sad, quick and deadly progression. But perhaps reading her story will be of help to someone else.
Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer. By the time it is diagnosed, it usually is stage IV.
Below are a few references to the connection between pancreatic cancer and melanoma. There are many more less technical ones to be found by search engines such as google, etc. Some of the articles say it is rare, others say it is quite common. We thought it extremely rare for a 32 year old to have BOTH in less than three years before we started to hear of the connection. I think the connection is more common than even the doctors previously thought.
If you or anyone in your family has had melanoma, please check out this connection now and be aware of it!
Melanoma: Risks, Early Detection and Prevention
Familial malignant melanoma families are characterized by 2 or more affected first-degree relatives (parent, sibling, or child). Affected members in these families may develop more than one primary melanoma and/or pancreatic cancer.
Hereditary Melanoma: prevalence of risk factors in a group of patients in Southern Brazil
Phenotypically, the families and individuals with mutations in CDKN2A may present the condition in various forms: multiple cases of melanoma in the family, multiple primary melanomas in an individual and the presence of melanoma and other neoplasias (especially cancer of the pancreas and tumors of the central nervous system) in the same family. The prevalence of mutations in CDKN2A in the general population is not known.
The Genetics of Pancreatic Cancer
Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma and pancreatic cancer (FAMMM-PC). FAMMM-PC is also known as melanoma-pancreatic cancer syndrome. People with FAMMM-PC have up to a 17% risk of developing pancreatic cancer. FAMMM-PC is associated with mutations in the CDKN2A gene. People who have mutations in the CDKN2A gene also have about a 70% risk of developing melanoma during their lifetime.
The CDKN2A (also called p16 and MST1) gene is a tumor suppressor gene. Genetic testing for mutations in CDKN2A is available, but testing is currently not recommended outside of clinical trials.
This is a very important guest post written by a wonderful woman, Fran. Fran's daughter lost her battle against pancreatic cancer and since she has done everything in her power to raise awareness. I met Fran's son-in-law while on the television show Miami Ink. You can watch his clip to learn more about her story. Please take the time read her post and comment!