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Research Shows Melanoma Influence Factors, Treatment Possibilities

Posted: August 6, 2008

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"Everyone is born with genes that are inherited from their parents," said Weinstock. "Sometimes the genes in certain skin cells become mutated, deleted or amplified over time due to UV radiation and other factors, and these genetic changes in skin cells that take place could result in melanoma."

Different types of melanoma also are characterized by different genetic changes. For example, Weinstock explained a melanoma that occurs on the face of an older person with extensive sun exposure will have a different genetic make-up than a melanoma found on the back or trunk area of a younger person with more limited exposure to UV light. From this greater understanding of the genetic characteristics of different types of melanomas, Weinstock suggested further research could show which preventative behaviors at different ages could help decrease the incidence of age-related melanomas.

A greater understanding of the relationship between UV exposure and melanoma could lead to more implications for treatment and preventive measures. For example, Weinstock noted that the oncology community is hopeful that a specific chemotherapy could be developed in the future that would target each type of melanoma based on where they occur on the body and their genetic characteristics.

"The better we understand the different types of melanoma, the more we can direct our therapies and prevention efforts," said Weinstock. "Since these new therapies won't be available anytime soon, it's still important for people to protect their skin from UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds."

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