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Promising biomarker for melanoma is identified

NYU School of Medicine researchers have identified a potential biomolecular marker for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. In a new study, they report that the marker, a kind of molecular signature, may help identify people with melanoma who have a better prognosis and longer life-expectancy after the cancer is removed.

The study was led by Iman Osman, M.D., and David Polsky, M.D., Ph.D., who collaborated with other researchers from NYU and from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. It will be published in the Dec. 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The researchers measured the amount of a molecule called HDM2 in tissue samples of melanoma from patients who were treated and followed at New York University Medical Center from November 1972 through November 1982. The study found that higher levels of the molecule were associated with a better prognosis; namely patients with high levels lived significantly longer after treatment than patients with low levels. And the association was maintained independent of other prognostic indicators, such as tumor thickness.

The difference between the two groups was maintained even ten years after treatment. Some 53 percent of patients with low levels had suffered a recurrence compared with 28 percent of those with high levels, according to the study. Overall, 55 percent of those with low levels had died, compared with 38 percent with high levels of the molecule.

"We think this is a promising biomarker for melanoma," says Dr. Osman, a medical oncologist. "Previously, we had determined that HDM2 was abundant in melanoma, but we didn't understand what this meant for the patient. With this retrospective study, we were able assess whether HDM2 levels at the time of diagnosis could help predict the course of the disease," she says. "The strength of our study is the large number of patients and the long-term follow-up that extends up t
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Contact: Marjorie Shaffer
Marjorie.Shaffer@med.nyu.edu
212-404-3555
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine
3-Dec-2002


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