| June 19, 2003
Abramson Cancer Center and The Wistar
Institute Sponsor First International Melanoma Research
Skin cancer is focus of Foundation for Melanoma
(Philadelphia, PA) - More
than 300 international experts in cancer research will
attend the first-ever International Melanoma Research
Congress, taking place in Philadelphia, from June 21-24,
2003 (at the Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel.) The Congress
is co-sponsored by the Abramson Cancer Center of
the University of Pennsylvania and The Wistar Institute,
and will be hosted by the locally based Foundation for
Melanoma Research. The Congress will highlight the widespread
occurrence of melanoma and bring together diverse experts
in the ever-growing field of melanoma research, including
the clinicians who treat patients, and the researchers
who specialize in the basic sciences of how cancer genes
"Melanoma is an important disease - both in the US
and elsewhere, and it is becoming increasingly more
common" says DuPont Guerry, MD, Congress Co-Chair
and Director of the Melanoma Program at the Abramson
Cancer Center. "Girls and boys born this year have,
respectively, a one in 81 and one in 57 chance of developing
melanoma in their lifetimes."
For 2003, the American Cancer Society estimates that
over 54,000 Americans (2,700 Pennsylvanians) will be
diagnosed with invasive melanoma and 7,600 will die
from the disease.
The Congress' theme is that good research revolutionizes
therapy. Areas of interest to be covered include: effectiveness
of sunscreen products at preventing skin cancer, predicting
risk of developing melanoma through identification of
high-risk genes and analyzing family history, vaccines
for melanoma and promising new therapies for the disease.
The Congress kicks off at the start of summer, June
21, to illustrate the key role of sun protection in
avoiding melanoma. The timing also offers skin health
experts an opportunity to remind the public that skin
cancer can be prevented through careful following of
sun protection tips.
"Melanoma is one of the few cancers where we know the
most likely environmental cause and how best to prevent
it - through reduced exposure to ultraviolet light,"
says dermatologist Michael Ming, MD, Director of the
Pigmented Lesion Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania
Medical Center. "Skin cancer is largely preventable,
so if you are aware of the risk factors, you can avoid
unnecessary exposure to the harmful ultraviolet light
of the sun."
Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer. Upon
diagnosis, it is usually treated by surgical removal
of any tumors or lesions. Early detection is critical
to surviving melanoma.
"Today, we have access to therapies that work well
if the cancer is caught early, but we do not have much
to offer after it is caught late," says Ming. "It is
important for people to be aware of their exposure to
sunlight and to avoid circumstances where they may get
burned or even tanned - too much is not good for your
More information about melanoma and other skin cancers
is available through local resources from the Abramson
More information about the Foundation for Melanoma
Research can be found on their website: www.foundationformelanomaresearch.org,
including the story about Noreen O'Neill, the Philadelphia
woman who founded the Foundation, and who died from
melanoma in 2000.
# # #
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of
Pennsylvania was founded in 1973 as a center of excellence
in cancer research, patient care, education and outreach.
Today, the Abramson Cancer Center ranks as one of the
nation's best in cancer care, according to US News and
World Report, and is one of the top five in National
Cancer Institute (NCI) funding. It is one of only 39
NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United
States. Home to one of the largest clinical and research
programs in the world, the Abramson Cancer Center has
275 active cancer researchers and 250 Penn physicians
involved in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.