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Recurrent Melanoma More Prevalent Than First Thought

Posted: April 19, 2006

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Melanoma is a particularly virulent form of skin cancer. It begins in cells known as melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells that give skin its color, but can spread quickly and unpredictably to other organs of the body.

An estimated 62,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year, according to the American Cancer Society, and nearly 8,000 people die from the disease annually.

According to the new study, previous studies have put melanoma recurrence at less than 4 percent within one year.

The current study included 354 New Hampshire residents who'd had a previous diagnosis of melanoma. All participants answered questions about their medical history, sun exposure history, hair and eye color, and whether their skin tanned, burned or freckled in the sun. Then they underwent a skin examination by a physician.

Six percent of the participants developed an additional melanoma within one year of the first diagnosis, while 8 percent developed an additional melanoma within two years.