Bringing attention and support to those battling advanced melanoma
Bringing attention and support to those battling advanced melanoma.
Jan 25, 2016
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 55,000 melanoma-related deaths occur worldwide each year. In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated 10,000 deaths due to melanoma. Melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer, develops when damage to the DNA in a certain type of skin cells called melanocytes triggers gene changes that lead to cancerous tumors. If caught early, melanoma is almost always curable; however, for people with late-stage, or advanced, disease, survival rates are low.
People battling advanced melanoma are in a fight for their lives. Advanced melanoma, melanoma that cannot be completely removed by surgery (unresectable) or has spread (metastasizes) to other parts of the body, can vary from person to person due to different genetic changes (or mutations) that may be present within the tumor itself. In fact, melanoma is one of the cancers with the highest frequency of mutations and remains one of the most difficult-to-treat cancers. However, by conducting a genetic test to understand the specific form of melanoma that a patient has, a physician gains critical information that helps determine the most appropriate treatment path. For example, the BRAF mutation is present in about half of all advanced melanoma cases and treatments have been researched and developed specifically to target this form of the disease.
Melanoma Just Got Personal, created by Novartis Oncology with input from several patient advocacy groups, and featuring pro football Hall of Famer and former melanoma patient Troy Aikman, aims to bring attention to the personalized nature of this disease and to help those with advanced melanoma and their loved ones understand the impact mutation status may have when determining a course of treatment.