Melanoma's Genetic Trajectories Are Charted in New Study

“An international team of scientists led by UC San Francisco researchers has mapped out the genetic trajectories taken by melanoma as it evolves from early skin lesions, known as precursors, to malignant skin cancer, which can be lethal when it invades other tissues in the body.

“By tracing the genetic changes that take place over time in the development of the disease, the research reaffirms the role of sun exposure in the emergence of precursor lesions, such as the common moles known as nevi, but also suggests that continued ultraviolet radiation (UV) damage to benign precursor lesions may push them on a path toward malignancy.

“More significantly, the study provides new evidence that genetic and cellular characteristics of skin lesions that are neither clearly benign moles nor malignant melanoma place them in a distinctive intermediate category, the existence of which has been hotly debated among dermatologists and pathologists.”

Mobile Technologies Expected to Change Paradigm in Melanoma Detection

“In this video, Allan C. Halpern, MD, illustrates how mobile technologies are expected to play a larger role in melanoma detection due to increased access and ease of use. However, he notes that a lack of oversight and quality assurance remain formidable challenges.

“While more than 50 iPhone apps are available to evaluate images of lesions, rashes and other abnormalities to help diagnose melanoma, the apps nevertheless use preexisting iPhone on-camera processing. Many inherent camera features attempt to improve the asthetic appearance of the skin, removing features that are critical to diagnosing a skin lesion.”