Get ready for an exciting announcement for the melanoma community

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Analysis and Expansion of the Pediatric Melanoma Outcomes Database Study

Brittani Seynnaeve, MD

Mentor John Kirkwood, MD
Award Type Career Development Award
Institution University of Pittsburgh
Donor Support Generously funded by the Inaugural #GetNakedJax Beach Bash

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops when melanocytes (the cells that give the skin its tan or brown color) grow out of control. It is more dangerous than most other skin cancers because it is much more likely to spread to other parts of the body. In 2021, there will be an estimated 101,280 new cases and 7,180 deaths due to melanoma of the skin. In children, melanoma is the most common skin cancer, yet only makes up less than 1% of the total new melanoma cases. In the teenager and young adult age group, melanoma is the third most common cancer diagnosis.

We know that there are often differences in the way that pediatric melanoma looks on the skin. We also know that parents and doctors often do not know that children can get melanoma. Children often have better outcomes than adults with melanoma, though we don’t know how to predict which children may have their melanoma spread to other parts of their body and cause death. Because of these differences, pediatric melanoma is often caught late and even once diagnosed, doctors often aren’t sure how to treat it. This is a problem because we know that catching melanoma early is very important and can lead to the cancer being an earlier stage and patients requiring less treatment and having better outcomes.

Since pediatric melanoma makes up such a small number of overall melanomas, it has been difficult to study. The goal of this research project is to now study the information from hundreds of pediatric melanoma patients over many years from different hospitals from our retrospective database that we created so that we can better understand pediatric melanoma and be able to create pediatric melanoma treatment guidelines. Our improved understanding and standardization of care will lead to better outcomes for the patients diagnosed with this cancer.

The second part of this study will focus on growing our research groundwork through the creation of a “prospective database” to be able to continually study pediatric melanoma as changes and improvements are made in the care of adult melanoma. We will be able to collect patient information when first diagnosed and over time as they are treated and monitored by their medical team. Pediatric melanoma patients from all over the nation will be able to participate in this important research. We will also include very important information from the patient and parent perspective by asking participants to complete surveys about their experience with melanoma. We believe it is very important not only to increase our ability to treat pediatric melanoma, but to also understand the patient/parent experience during the process. The study will be further enhanced by including access to melanoma tumor samples, as well as photography documentation of the skin lesions before and after treatment, to fully pave the way for ongoing research and improvement of our care of pediatric melanoma.