Skip to content

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Font Size

High-Risk Melanomas Often on Head or Neck

Rate of cell growth may be a key to diagnosis and treatment, an expert says

continued...

For the study published online Aug. 20 in JAMA Dermatology, a research team led by Dr. Sarah Shen, from Alfred Hospital in Victoria, looked at the mitotic rates of melanomas in more than 1,400 patients.

The investigators found that melanomas with higher mitotic rates were more likely to occur on the head and neck, grow faster and appear without color.

These cancers were more likely to occur in men 70 and older and in people with a history of sun damage, called solar keratosis -- rough, raised areas on skin that's been exposed to the sun for long periods.

A history of blistering sunburns and a family history of melanoma, however, were associated with cancers having lower mitotic rates, the researchers said.

New treatments are improving survival of people with advanced melanoma, Day said. "There are now some genetic-based treatments and some immune-based treatments," she said.

"This has taken what was a death sentence and made it into a chronic illness. People are now living four and five years when they would have died in six months," Day explained.

What's sad, she added, is that skin cancer is largely preventable. "A lot of cancers you can't do anything about, but skin cancers are up to 80 percent preventable by just adjusting behavior," she said.

1|2

Today on WebMD

Malignant melanoma
About 40-50 percent of those who live to be 65 may get it. Here’s how to spot early.
Woman checking out tan lines
There’s a dark side to that strive for beauty. See them here.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
12 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Melanoma
ARTICLE
precancerous lesions slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
Do You Know Your Melanoma ABCs
VIDEO
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
ARTICLE
 
screening tests for men
SLIDESHOW
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW
 
Is That Mole Skin Cancer
VIDEO
Brilliant sun rays
Quiz
 

WebMD Special Sections