The incidence of melanoma is one of the fastest growing of all tumor types in the United States and the number of cases worldwide has doubled in the past 30 years. Melanoma, which arises from melanocytes, is an extremely aggressive tumor that invades the vascular and lymphatic systems to establish tumors elsewhere in the body. Melanoma is a particularly resilient cancer and systemic therapy approaches have achieved minimal success against metastatic melanoma resulting in only a few FDA-approved treatments with limited benefit. Leading treatments offer minimal efficacy with response rates generally under 15% in the long term with no clear effect on melanoma-related mortality. Even the recent success of the specific BRAF mutant inhibitor vemurafenib has been tempered somewhat since acquired resistance is rapidly observed. Thus, understanding the mechanism(s) of melanoma carcinogenesis is paramount to combating this deadly disease. Not only for the treatment of melanoma but, ultimately, for prevention. In this report, we will summarize our work to date regarding the characterization of ultraviolet radiation (UVR)-mediated melanomagenesis and highlight several promising avenues of ongoing research.
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