Melanoma, the skin cancer often associated with sun exposure, is on the rise and has no reliable cure. May is National Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, aimed at increasing early detection and treatment of this aggressive disease.
Mayo Clinic is at the forefront of these efforts. The Center for Individualized Medicine (CIM) is unravelling the complex behavior of melanoma at the molecular level— to allow for treatment that better targets an individual's disease.
"All melanomas are not the same. The ability to understand what may be driving different subsets of melanoma at the molecular level allows us to use treatment appropriate for a particular patient," says Aleksander Sekulic, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologist in the Cancer Center and assistant CIM director at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.
About 90,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma and more than 9,000 people die from the disease in the United States every year, according to the American Cancer Society. The incidence has been rising for the past 30 years, especially among young people.
"If melanoma isn’t caught very early, it tends to spread. 'Early' means melanoma on the skin with a thickness of less than 1 millimeter — which is essentially three grains of table salt," Dr. Sekulic says. "We need to develop better therapies because we know that even recent advances that are nothing short of miracles will work only in a subset of patients, not all patients."
Read the rest of the article on the Center for Individualized Medicine blog.
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