Mucosal melanoma is a rare form of melanoma, making up only about 1% of melanoma cases. Approximately 50% of mucosal melanomas begin in the head and neck region. Unlike most cases of melanoma of the skin, mucosal melanoma is not considered to be related to or affected by U.V. exposure. Additionally, there are no obvious identified risk factors, not even family history. Lacking an identifiable culprit and given its rare occurrence, most cases of mucosal melanoma are quite advanced once identified, giving it a poor prognosis (Source: Melanoma.org.).
Here at the U-M Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, we believe that the key to treating and curing all types of melanoma is in developing earlier detection methods and innovative approaches to treatment. More specifically, Dr. Scott McLean of our Division of Head and Neck Oncology is researching the role that circulating tumor cells have in the metastasis of melanoma. Circulating tumor cells are cells that shed from a primary tumor and circulate in the bloodstream. These circulating cells can then serve as seeds for subsequent growth of additional tumors in vital distant organs, which contributes to the poor prognosis of melanoma. Dr. McLean's team believes that by detecting these circulating cells and then treating them, we can improve patient outcomes and even cure melanoma.
Show Your Support: 2016 Boston Marathon Fundraiser
Dr. McLean is running the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18, to help raise funds for melanoma cancer research here at U-M. If you you would like to support our melanoma research efforts, please make a donation. Your gift helps us make strides to cure melanoma.