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.
Seven U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved therapies for metastatic melanoma currently exist, but most benefit only a subset of patients. More effective options for prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment are urgently needed. MRA-funded researchers are working to improve the success of the current therapies by identifying new biomarkers that might select patients for therapy, combining treatments aimed at countering drug resistance, as well as discovering new and more effective drug targets for melanoma.