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June 28, 2024/Daily Health Stories

How Genetics Play a Role with Melanoma

New Cleveland Clinic research shows how genetics may play a bigger role in melanoma than originally thought.

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CLEVELAND - A recent study from Cleveland Clinic found genetics may play a bigger role than originally thought when it comes to melanoma.

According to Joshua Arbesman, MD, dermatologist and researcher for Cleveland Clinic, they looked at different genes in individuals with a history of melanoma.

“What we found when we screened these patients is that about 15 percent of the patients had what we call a pathogenic variant, meaning a change in a gene that increases your risk for cancer,” said Dr. Arbesman.

Dr. Arbesman said two-thirds of the genes they found that were significantly altered were not in genes previously associated with melanoma.

So, why is this important?

He said it could provide more insight into who is at risk for not just melanoma, but other cancers too.

In addition, it could expand who is eligible for genetic testing.

Currently, physicians rarely order genetic testing for individuals with a personal history of melanoma, and insurance companies often don’t cover it.

And that’s due to the previous lack of research in this area.

Dr. Arbesman also hopes it’ll lessen any guilt some cancer patients have.

“I think a lot of people that develop melanoma sometimes feel some sense of guilt over their past sun exposure, some of which was not controlled by them because it was during childhood,” he said. “What I would say is that there's a large portion of the risk that was not determined by anything that they did. The genetics may play a larger role. And so not feeling guilty about their previous exposure is important as well.”

Dr. Arbesman said their research is ongoing.

They plan to study more individuals with melanoma, and also see if they can identify any other genes that can put a person at risk for cancer.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.

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