Cutaneous MelanomaRSS

Last Updated: February 22, 2012

Sample Collection Complete Data Publicly Available
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What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a cancer in the type of skin cells called melanocytes.  Melanocyes are the cells that produce melanin, which colors the skin. When exposed to sun, these cells make more melanin which causes the skin to darken or tan. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body and risk factors include fair complexion, family history of melanoma, and being exposed to natural or artificial sunlight over long periods of time. Melanoma is most often discovered because it has metastasized, or spread, to another organ, such as the lymph nodes. In many cases, the skin melanoma site is never found. Because of this challenge, TCGA is studying primarily metastatic cases. In other cancers selected for study by TCGA, metastatic cases are excluded. For 2011, it was estimated that there were 70,230 new cases of melanoma and 8,790 deaths from it1. View additional information on melanoma.

What types of discoveries about melanoma do The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) researchers hope to make?

  • Identify new or rare genetic changes that may contribute to risk for melanoma
  • Analyze genomic differences between metastases in different organs, such as the brain or lymph nodes
  • Examine how tumor genomes change once treated with a therapy, such as immunotherapy or chemotherapy
  • Pinpoint new epigenetic changes that propel melanoma

Where can I find more information about the TCGA Research Network’s studies or studies using TCGA data?

View a list of TCGA scientific publications.

Where can I find clinical trials to treat melanoma that are supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)?

View a list of NCI-supported melanoma clinical trials that are now accepting patients.

Selected References
1 American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2011. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2011.