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Research briefs

Network - Fall 2013

Improving sun protection practices for children of melanoma survivors

Children of melanoma survivors are more likely to wear hats and reapply sunscreen after receiving a specialized multimedia informational program. The findings were published in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Led by MD Anderson behavioral science researchers Ellen Gritz, Ph.D., and Mary Tripp, Ph.D., the randomized trial tested whether a sun protection program for melanoma survivors and their children was more effective than standard educational materials available to the general public.

In the United States, more than 76,000 new cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, will be diagnosed this year. “Similar to tobacco education, sun protection education is also critical, especially in the early stages of life, ” Tripp says.

Because of inherited and behavioral factors, children of melanoma survivors have nearly double the risk of developing the disease.

Melanoma survivors completed telephone interviews at baseline and at one month and four months after intervention.

Overall, the intervention increased sunscreen reapplication and the use of wide-brimmed hats in the children. The greatest effect on sunscreen behavior was in survivors who had children younger than 8 years old.

Noting that few interventions directed to parents have increased children’s protective hat-wearing behavior, Tripp called the study “a valuable starting point for future research.”

Bevacizumab fails newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients

Mark Gilbert, M.D., professor in Neuro-Oncology, led the first Phase III, randomized, double-blind study on the use of bevacizumab (Avastin) in glioblastoma.

The trial’s findings were highlighted at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists.

Once bevacizumab was approved for recurrent glioblastoma, some physicians began giving it as frontline therapy. But there was no data to support this use.

“From a patient care and regulatory standpoint, we felt it was important to conduct the trial,” Gilbert says.

Results showed that the drug failed to increase overall  survival — or statistically significant progression-free survival — in newly diagnosed patients.

However, Gilbert stresses that the study still found the drug had some use in managing the disease.

“Bevacizumab has the same benefit whether given early or late, and, because of the risk of extra toxicity upfront, its use can be reserved as a later treatment for most patients,” he says.

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© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center