Research is needed in all areas relating to melanoma. Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in incidence globally, and is a significant public health burden. If it is not diagnosed at an early stage when surgery is curative, the melanoma can spread, or "metastasize." The median lifespan of a patient with metastatic melanoma is less than a year.
Although studies have been able to identify risk factors, we are only beginning to appreciate the precise genetic mechanisms by which melanocytes become malignant. Our method of screening the skin by visual inspection can miss some melanomas. When a melanoma progresses, there are insufficient treatments to halt it.
The State of Melanoma Research: A Call To Action report summarizes a meeting of international experts in November 2007 that identified the critical questions which need to be answered to drive breakthroughs in prevention, diagnosis, staging and treatment. In addition, the MRA Scientific Retreats held in 2009, and 2010 facilitated discussions of cutting-edge research in an interactive forum. MRA-funded research focuses on translational, innovative, high-risk research conducted through a team approach that has the potential to impact the outcomes of melanoma patients in the near future.