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Fish Offering Valuable Insights Into Melanoma’s Character

Thousands of Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year. While people who are younger and are diagnosed in early stages of the disease enjoy a high survival rate, this is not always the case. The American Melanoma Foundation, in fact, estimates about 1 person an hour dies from this form of cancer in the United States alone.
Considering the potential morbidity associated with melanoma, it should be no surprise that researchers are hard at work seeking a better understanding of the disease. They may, in fact, have found a way to gain the insights they need to gain an upper hand.

Researchers have managed to engineer a specific zebrafish species that allows them to see melanoma as it develops. This vantage point is providing tremendous insights on scientists’ understanding of this disease’s formation from its very first cells to its progression into full-blown melanoma.

While the full implications for the zebrafish research have not yet been realized, researchers say it may someday open the door wide for better treatments while providing possible ways to stop this form of cancer even before it begins. How soon those types of breakthroughs may occur remains unknown, however. At present, the best way to beat melanoma is to either prevent it in the first place or catch it in its earliest stages of development.

It is important for people to understand anyone who has been exposed to the sun is technically at risk for the formation of a variety of types of skin cancer. The major risk factors for melanoma include:
• Having a fair complexion
• Having red or blonde hair
• Having blue, gray or green eyes
• Experiencing excessive exposure to the sun during childhood years, including enduring burns and blisters
• Having a family history of melanoma
• Having more than 100 moles or more than 50 for those under the age of 20

People who are concerned about skin cancer are urged to speak with their healthcare providers. Routine visual inspections may help catch this disease in its early, most treatable stages.

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