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Research Center

On the Horizon: Research in Melanoma

Research and Melanoma: Why it Matters

Skin cancer exists in different types, body sites, and people.  The three most common forms of skin cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma.  Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.  It occurs when the cells responsible for the skin's color (melanocytes) begin to grow and divide abnormally.  Melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color.  When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes produce more pigment, causing the skin to tan, or darken.  In most cases, melanocytes will continue to produce melanin after becoming cancerous; thus melanoma is often recognized as dark brown or black (pigmented) lesions on the skin.  Learn more.

Rethinking Melanoma

Researchers have studied melanoma cells in clinical laboratories and discovered that there are actually different types of melanoma.  Each type looks and acts in a certain way.  Determining what genetic, physical and environmental factors caused a patent's melanoma will allow doctors to craft treatments that are more tailored to that patent's specific kind of melanoma.  Exciting, new research underway will move from recognizing these melanoma differences in laboratories to recognizing them in doctor's offices, ushering in a new era of melanoma prevention and treatment.  Learn more.

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Last Reviewed: Aug 26, 2013

Meg R Gerstenblith, MD Meg R Gerstenblith, MD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University