Thursday, April 28, 2005

Rise of Melanoma in Kids Alarming Doctors

Rise of Melanoma in Kids Alarming Doctors

By LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer
Thu Apr 28, 8:04 AM ET

CHICAGO - Doctors used to think that it took years for the deadliest skin cancer to develop — that is, until melanoma started appearing in teenagers and children even younger.

Corey Halpin of Hanover Park was one of them. At age 10, he noticed a dark bump on his upper left arm, thinking during a Boy Scout camping trip that it might even be a tick.

"I pushed it but it didn't move, but it bled," Corey, now 13, recalled.

It wasn't until a few months later, during a spring 2002 visit to his pediatrician, that Corey casually asked his dad if he should mention the odd mole. That led to a referral to a specialist and alarming test results that caught even his doctors by surprise.

Melanoma was until recently almost unheard of in children, and it was a diagnosis that his family wasn't prepared for.

"My husband and I were scared to death" and so was Corey, said his mother, Marge Halpin.

Pediatric melanoma is still uncommon in children, affecting only 7 per million, or about 500, according to 2002 statistics from the National Cancer Institute. But that number has risen from 3 per million in 1982.

Dr. Charles Balch of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, who has specialized in melanoma for 30 years, saw his first pediatric case five years ago. Since then, Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he works, has treated about 20 youngsters, the youngest just 8.

Dr. Anthony Mancini, dermatology chief at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, diagnosed Corey Halpin's melanoma and said he and his colleagues have treated eight cases in the past nine years, about double the number seen in the previous two decades.

Recent studies also report increases in England, Sweden and Australia.

"There's an appropriate level of alarm here," Mancini said. "Clearly it's happening and it's deadly, and it's missed."

Some pediatricians who see unusual moles in children "would ordinarily dismiss this as nothing because melanoma is not supposed to happen in this age group," Balch said. "We all should be aware that this can occur and biopsy suspicious or changing moles in children."

Balch said reasons for the increase are uncertain. Some doctors think it might be from depletion of the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from some of the sun's damaging ultraviolet radiation. Others attribute it to excessive sun exposure and blistering sunburns in early childhood, though some experts had thought it took much longer for skin damage from repeated sun exposure to develop into cancer.

Melanoma prevalence has risen in adults, too — more than doubling in the past 30 years, according to the cancer institute. And the American Cancer Society estimates that this year about 60,000 U.S. adults will be diagnosed with melanoma and that 7,700 will die from it.

Melanoma develops in skin cells called melanocytes, which produce the pigment that colors the skin's surface and protects deeper layers from sun damage. It is much more invasive and likely to spread to other parts of the body than other skin cancers.

Research from Italian doctors published in the March edition of Pediatrics found that melanoma lesions in children sometimes look different from those in adults and may be misdiagnosed.

In adults, melanoma often looks like a black or very dark brown mole, or one with irregular borders. But half the Italian children studied had lighter-colored lesions, and most had well-defined borders.

Also unlike adults, most children with melanoma have no family history of the disease, and they may lack other risk factors including moles present since birth, Balch said.

Freckle-faced Corey has no relatives with melanoma or any other kind of cancer. But he does have other risk factors — fair skin, red hair and green eyes.

Mancini, his doctor, says the traditional A-B-C-D signs of melanoma — asymmetry, border irregularities, colors of mixed black and brown, and diameters larger than a pencil eraser — sometimes occur in children. But a child's lesion also can be smaller and pinkish. Mancini recommends the "ugly duckling" detection method — watching for a mole that looks completely different from the child's other moles.

In Corey's case, the mole was tiny but much darker than his other freckles, and it bled — another warning sign.

Three years since his surgery, Corey is cancer-free. He still has tests every few months, but doctors say his long-term survival chances are excellent.

The angry scar on his arm has shrunk as he's grown but it will always be a reminder. His pediatrician told him that it would be like a battle scar he could use to impress girls.

Now 13, Corey smiles at that thought.


On the Net:

National Cancer Institute:

American Cancer Society:

Reagan's Presidential Diaries to Be Published

Reagan's Presidential Diaries to Be Published

Wed Apr 27, 9:32 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ronald Reagan's handwritten personal diaries covering his eight years as president from 1981 will be published next year after an agreement with his presidential library.

Publisher HarperCollins called Reagan's private journal "the most detailed presidential diaries in America's history," and said it had been seen only by a few people.

"When Ronnie became president, he wanted to write it all down so we could remember these special times," Nancy Reagan said in the publishing house statement released on Tuesday.

Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, died last year at the age of 93. He had lived in seclusion under his wife's care for much of the previous decade while struggling with Alzheimer's.

The former actor turned politician was mourned as one of the most significant U.S. presidents of the 20th century, though he was also seen by some as one of the most divisive. His tenure cleared the way for the end of the Cold War and historians will be particularly interested in his accounts of meetings with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

HarperCollins said it had signed a deal with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation for world rights to publish the diaries, which would be displayed in the meantime at the presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

"Each day during his eight years in the White House, Ronald Reagan recorded his innermost thoughts and observations in his personal diary," said Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., chairman of the board of trustees for the Reagan Presidential Foundation.

"Although they were not initially intended for publication, we feel that these volumes offer an unprecedented insight into the Reagan presidency," he said.

HarperCollins said the diaries, to be published in 2006, offered insights into historic events and the routine day-to-day life in the White House.

Would-Be Car Burglar Locks Self in Trunk

Would-Be Car Burglar Locks Self in Trunk

Tue Apr 26, 6:58 AM ET

FRESNO, Calif. - A man attempting to burglarize a car over the weekend locked himself in the trunk and was swiftly arrested, police said.

A security guard at an apartment complex in southeast Fresno followed a trail of blood to a banging noise coming from the trunk in the early morning hours Sunday.

Authorities responding to the scene expected to find a victim, but instead discovered the burglar.

"Genius, pure genius," said Fresno County Sheriff's Lt. Louis Hernandez.

Police said he cut himself on the door of another car he'd broken into, then trickled blood across the parking lot to the car he eventually locked himself inside.

The man initially told authorities he had been hit on the head and stuffed in the trunk, but police found items stolen from another vehicle inside the trunk with the suspect.

"He popped the trunk from the inside and crawled back there, ransacking every inch," Hernandez said. "But then he grabs the trunk to heave himself out and closes it on top of him. He's got to be the dumbest criminal of the day."

The man was taken to University Medical Center to be treated for cuts, then to the Fresno County Jail to be booked on two counts of theft.

Police did not identify the suspect.

Bill's Comment: Talk about self-imprisonment.

GOP Stressing Constitution in Judge Battle

GOP Stressing Constitution in Judge Battle

Mon Apr 25, 8:09 AM ET

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON - Buffeted by poor poll numbers, Senate Republicans are stressing the Constitution rather than religion or retribution against activist judges as the reason to deny Democrats the right to block votes on President Bush's court nominees.

"What I do not want to do is cross the line and say those who oppose these nominees are people who lack faith," Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record), R-S.C., told "Fox News Sunday." "I don't believe that. I don't think that's appropriate."

Graham spoke several hours before Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told a group of social conservatives he wants no part of retaliation against sitting judges.

"When we think judicial decisions are outside mainstream American values, we will say so," he told a rally dubbed "Justice Sunday — Stopping The Filibuster Against People of Faith." "But we must also be clear that the balance of power among all three branches requires respect — not retaliation."

"I won't go along with that," he added in implicit rejection of recent comments by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Frist made no mention of religion in his four-minute taped appearance.

Instead, the Tennessee Republican, Graham and other GOP senators said repeatedly Sunday that their goal was to assure fairness for Bush's controversial nominees — a yes or no vote in the Senate.

"If these senators are not prepared to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities, then why are they here in the first place?" said Frist.

The Republicans framed their rhetoric several days after receiving the results of a private poll that showed only 37 percent support for their plan to strip Democrats of the ability to filibuster judicial appointees. Opposed were 51 percent.

The same survey indicated only about 20 percent believe the GOP claim that Bush is the first president in history whose court appointees have been subjected to filibusters, a tactic in which opponents can prevent a vote unless supporters gain 60 votes.

The poll did contain some encouraging news for Republicans. Even among self-described Democrats, support for granting court appointees a yes-or-no vote exceeded 70 percent, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

No showdown seems imminent, despite earlier indications from Republicans that they might try to force the issue before the end of the week.

Republicans argue they can change the Senate's filibuster procedure on a simple majority vote, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (news, bio, voting record) of Kentucky, the chief GOP vote counter, told CBS' "Face the Nation" his party would prevail.

No Democrat disputed that Sunday. Republicans hold 55 seats in the 100-member Senate. So far, only two — Sens. John McCain or Arizona and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island — have broken ranks. Others have expressed concern about a move to change practices in place for decades.

One Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record) of Delaware, talked on ABC's "This Week" of a possible compromise in which Democrats would "let a number" of Bush's contested appointments win confirmation while "the two most extreme not go through." He mentioned no names.

The response from the two Senate party leaders seemed tepid at best. Frist's spokesman declined comment, while Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said through an aide that he remains open to compromise.

Democrats confirmed more than 200 judicial appointments Bush made during his first term, but blocked 10 appeals court nominees they deemed too conservative to warrant lifetime appointments.

Once re-elected, the president resubmitted seven of the names. Democrats have threatened to filibuster them again.

Of the seven, three were appointed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, referred without elaboration to "a lot of negotiations to try to get three judges from Michigan" — Henry Saad, Richard Griffin and David McTeague — confirmed. Specter was interviewed on CNN's "Late Edition."

The other four judges include William G. Myers III, named to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; William Pryor Jr., picked for the 11th Circuit; Janice Rogers Brown, tabbed for the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia; and Priscilla Owen, whom Bush named to the 5th Circuit.

Frist singled out Owen for praise in his remarks before the rally organized by the Family Research Council on Sunday, a possible indication that he has decided to make her the test case on the filibuster issue.

Speaking of her and the six others, Frist recalled that Reid earlier accused him of pursuing radical Republican policies with his campaign to banish judicial filibusters.

"I don't think it's radical to ask senators to vote," he said. "I don't think it's radical to expect senators to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities."

Elton John Planning Civil Marriage with Long-Term Partner

Bill's Pre-Comment: Will he be singing, "Kiss The Bride" and/or "Don't Go Breaking My Heart?" Also, who will be wearing the dress?

Elton John Planning Civil Marriage with Long-Term Partner

Mon Apr 25, 7:11 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - British pop star Elton John intends to marry his long term partner David Furnish some time this year or in 2006, his publicist said Monday.

The singer told the Mirror tabloid that he and Furnish wanted to hold a civil partnership ceremony in Windsor, near London, in mid-December, although publicist Gary Farrow said John had added it could take place some time next year.

"He (John) said that it may be by Christmas and it may be next year," Farrow told Reuters.

He added that one of John's main motivations for going ahead with the ceremony was financial.

Civil partnerships between gay couples will be allowed in Britain starting Dec. 5 and give partners tax breaks available to married couples.

John, 58, and Furnish, 42, have been partners for more than 11 years. A Web site recently speculated the couple was splitting up, prompting Furnish to say that they had "never been happier."

John told the Mirror that Furnish should not expect many of the trappings of a regular marriage.

"There will be no honeymoon. I'm on tour," he said.

John has sold tens of millions of records worldwide and is best known for classic tracks including "Candle in the Wind" and "Rocket Man."

He has signed an agreement to perform 75 shows over three years in Las Vegas and also is touring the United States, Europe and Canada over the coming months.

John, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, previously married German music engineer Renate Blauel in 1984. She and John divorced four years later.

Monday, April 25, 2005 eBlast 4/22/2005

Laura's Weekly E-Blast
April 22, 2005


There is an undeniable fury building among Republican voters coast to coast. It has now been almost six months since that euphoric day last year -- November 2nd -- when Republicans stunned Democrats across the board. Not only did President Bush handily beat John Kerry, but the GOP did what few predicted -- it managed to pick up four seats in the Senate. John Thune's victory over Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota was extra sweet.
That seems like six years ago, not six months ago. Talk to your average Republican voter today and you will find a mood that ranges from anxious/concerned to enraged/frustrated. Yes, the Iraqi elections were amazing. Yes, the President's commitment to the spread of liberty is stalwart. Yes, his European "Unplugged" tour was a necessary step. The focus here is not President Bush (although in an ideal world he would be stronger on the stump on issues beyond social security reform). After the mid-term elections, President Bush will be on his way out, a "short-timer." The future of the Republican Party depends more on what happens now in Congress.

So what has our Republican majority in both houses of Congress gotten us lately? Well, the Terri Schiavo bill-regardless of what you think about its merits -- was at least bold. Then there was the bankruptcy bill. Good stuff, though hardly the legislation that will get voters running to the polls next election.

Of course being in the majority sometimes requires deal-making. Sometimes it requires delaying victory on one issue in order to win support on another more important issue. But sometimes being in the majority just requires that you act like you are in the majority.

This year, with a Republican majority in Congress, we have watched as 20 percent of the President's appellate court nominees are left twisting in the wind. With a Republican majority presiding, we have watched as John Bolton, the President's nominee for U.N. ambassador, has been personally and professionally maligned. With a Republican majority, we have seen spending skyrocket to obscene levels. With a Republican majority, we have seen the Democrats out-maneuver Republicans in the public-relations game with lame lines and gross misrepresentations.

Okay, the Senate did pass tort reform.

But a bill here or a bill there is simply not going to be enough to stem the tide of Republican voters' righteous anger about what many are calling "Creeping Wimpiness." Did thousands of volunteers work tirelessly to give the GOP this majority only to allow the minority to roll them on judges, policy, and other nominations? Did millions of generously open their wallets to the RNC only to see John McCain, Chuck Hagel, Lincoln Chafee, and George Voinovich help the Democrats when we needed them most?

Now is not the time for Republican Senators to cling to niceties. It is not the time to call for more discussions or negotiations. Now is the time for action. Allowing the Bolton nomination to be delayed was unforgivable. (Chairman Richard Lugar was caught totally off-guard by Voinovich's joining the Dems push to delay the Bolton vote.) Allowing Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer to brand nominees such as Janice Rogers Brown (an African American California Supreme Court justice) "extreme", was a colossal mistake. Most of the country still does not know that never before in the history of this country has the filibuster been used to block a vote of an appeals court nominee!

The frustration felt by many GOP voters has created a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for conservative politicians. For the first time in decades, we have no clear front-runner for the next GOP nomination. For the first time since George W. started his presidential campaign in the late 1990s, there is no clear standard-bearer for conservatives to rally round.

If a senator or governor can seize this moment, and create the type of bond with conservatives that Bush created during his nomination battle with McCain, that person could be on his way to the White House. If no one steps forward, and conservative voters increasingly watch their party kowtow to the McCains, Hagels, and Chafees of the mushy middle, then those voters will disengage from this party, meaning that the mainstream press will enjoy covering the elections of 2006 and 2008 a lot more than they enjoyed the election 2004.