NEW YORK, October 4, 2005 - Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center(MSKCC) researchers have found that melanoma patients with a familyhistory of melanoma and/or dysplastic nevi (abnormal moles) are at highrisk of developing multiple primary melanomas (MPM). Researchersrecommend more intensive follow up for these high-risk patients. Theresults of this study, which will appear in the October 5 issue of theJournal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), emphasize theimportance of intensive dermatologic screenings for this population toidentify melanoma at its earliest stage.
"Since melanoma patients with a positive family history and/ordysplastic nevi were found to be at higher risk for multiple primarymelanomas, we recommend that these patients not only undergo morefrequent and intensive dermatologic screening, but also practiceself-exams," said Dr. Daniel Coit, co-leader of the MSKCC MelanomaDisease Management Team and senior author of the study.
The study is the first to utilize a multidisciplinary,single-institution database to identify the characteristics of patientsat risk for developing MPM. Researchers prospectively followed 4484melanoma patients treated at MSKCC. They found that:
"The most striking increase we found was the likelihoodthat patients would develop a third primary melanoma in a relativelyshort period of time after they had developed a second primarymelanoma," said Cristina Ferrone, MD, second year surgical fellow atMSKCC and the study's lead author. "The risk of a third primary forthese patients was as high as15.6 percent after one year and over 30percent at five years." "While second and third primary melanomas aretreatable, this study shows the need for doctors and patients to bemore vigilant in dermatologic screening, self-examination and in closemonitoring of multiple atypical nevi," commented Alan Halpern, MD,Chief of the Dermatology Service at MSKCC and co-author of the study.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It is thefifth most common cancer among American men and the sixth most commonamong American women. In 2005, the rate of melanoma in the UnitedStates is predicted to rise by three percent to an estimated 59,580 newcases. This increasing incidence puts a greater portion of thepopulation at risk not only for one primary melanoma but also forsubsequent primary melanomas.
The study's other co-authors were Leah Ben Porat, Katherine S.Panageas, DrPH, Marianne Berwick, and Ami Patel. The melanoma databaseused for the study is a product of MSKCC's Melanoma Disease ManagementTeam. This is a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, medicaloncologists, dermatologists, and other medical professionals whospecialize in the diagnosis and treatment of melanoma.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is the world's oldest andlargest institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research, andeducation in cancer. Our scientists and clinicians generate innovativeapproaches to better understand, diagnose, and treat cancer. Ourspecialists are leaders in biomedical research and in translating thelatest research to advance the standard of cancer care worldwide.
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