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Cancer Genetics

Melanoma and Sarcoma Relation

11/16/2000

Question:

Are sarcoma and melanoma related to each other?

Answer:

Sarcomas and melanomas are only related to each other in that they are both forms of cancer. Whenever a word ends in the suffix -oma, it means that it is a tumor.

A melanoma forms from melanocytes, the cells in the skin that have the dark pigment in them (melanin) that normally protects us from damage from the sun`s UV radiation. When the growth of the melanocytes becomes abnormal, a melanoma results.

A sarcoma forms from the supporting tissues of the body -- muscle, bone, cartilage, etc. There are many different types of sarcoma depending on the originating tissue. For example: a rhabdomyosarcoma comes from muscle, an osteosarcoma comes from bone, and a chondrosarcoma comes from cartilage. Medical science can combine any number of Greek words to describe the tumor so there are many more words used with sarcoma.

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Response by:

Judith A Westman, MD Judith A Westman, MD
Associate Professor, Clinical Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Medical Biochemistry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University