Genetic Study Confirms Most Pediatric Melanoma Linked To Sun Exposure

Dr. Pappo and Dr. Bahrami by Peter Barta

Dr. Pappo and Dr. Bahrami Interview with:
Alberto Pappo, M.D.
Member, Oncology; Director, Solid Tumor Division
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Pappo: Researchers have identified three distinct subtypes of childhood and adolescent tumors of pigment-producing skin cells called melanocytes. The subtypes have different genetic alterations and often different outcomes for patients. The findings should aid efforts to improve diagnosis and treatment of melanoma, which is the most common skin cancer in children and adolescents.

The study provides the most comprehensive analysis yet of the genetic alteration underlying pediatric melanoma, including the first genetic evidence that sun damage causes melanoma in children and adolescents as well as adults. Researchers used whole genome sequencing and other techniques to study the normal and cancer genomes of 23 young patients with a variety of melanocytic tumors, including conventional melanoma. Patients ranged in age from 9 months to 19 years old.

The melanoma subtypes in this study included conventional melanoma, which scientists showed was the same disease in children, adolescents and adults. More than 90 percent of pediatric conventional melanoma had DNA changes linked to sun damage.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Pappo: The findings reinforce the importance of sun protection beginning early in life. The results also underscore the need to make it easier for younger patients with conventional melanoma to access promising therapeutic agents being tried in adults. Clinicians and patients should take away that conventional melanoma in adolescents is very similar to adult melanoma and that UV plays a role in the pathogenesis of this disease.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Pappo: We would like to expand our observations by creating a registry.


The Genomic Landscape of Childhood and Adolescent Melanoma

Charles Lu1,11, Jinghui Zhang2,11, Panduka Nagahawatte2, John Easton2, Seungjae Lee3, Zhifa Liu4, Li Ding1,5,6,7, Matthew A Wyczalkowski1, Marcus Valentine8, Fariba Navid9, Heather Mulder2, Ruth G Tatevossian3, James Dalton3, James Davenport3, Zhirong Yin3, Michael Edmonson2, Michael Rusch2, Gang Wu2, Yongjin Li2, Matthew Parker2, Erin Hedlund2, Sheila Shurtleff3, Susana Raimondi3, Vadodaria Bhavin2, Yergeau Donald2, Elaine R Mardis5,6,7, Richard K Wilson5,6,7, William E Evans10, David W Ellison3, Stanley Pounds4, Michael Dyer2, James R Downing3, Alberto Pappo9 and Armita Bahrami3 for the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital–Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project

Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2015) 135, 816–823; doi:10.1038/jid.2014.425; published online 30 October 2014 Interview with: Alberto Pappo, M.D. (2015). Genetic Study Confirms Most Pediatric Melanoma Linked To Sun Exposure 

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Last Updated on March 6, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD