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Potential Melanoma Biomarker Discovered

Could predict prognosis for people with skin cancer

THURSDAY, Dec. 5, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A potential biomarker for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has been identified by American researchers.

Their findings are reported in the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

This marker may help distinguish people with melanoma who have a better prognosis after the melanoma is removed.

The researchers focused on a molecule called HDM2. They measured the amount of HDM2 in melanoma tissue samples from people treated and followed at New York University Medical Center from November 1972 to November 1982.

The study found that tissue samples from people with higher levels of HDM2 were associated with people who lived much longer after treatment than people with low levels of HDM2.

The study found that 53 percent of the people with low HDM2 levels suffered a cancer recurrence, compared with 28 percent of the people with high HDM2 levels. After 10 years, 55 percent of the people with low levels had died, compared to 38 percent of the people with high levels of the molecule.

Cases of melanoma are increasing, and it's expected that more than 53,000 American will be diagnosed with melanoma this year and about 7,400 Americans will die from the disease.

Melanoma is the ninth most common cancer in the United States. A family history of melanoma, a fair complexion, and too much sunlight exposure increase the risk of melanoma. With early detection and treatment, melanoma is highly curable.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more information about melanoma.

SOURCE: New York University Medical Center, news release, Dec. 3, 2002
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