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Evidence grows that sun protection must start early and be a lifelong habit

Drs. Pappo and Bahrami

Scientists from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have more evidence that sun protection should be a habit for life.

The evidence comes from the largest study yet to find the genetic changes that cause different subtypes of pediatric melanoma. Melanoma is the most common skin cancer in children and teens. More than nine out of ten young patients with a subtype called conventional melanoma had DNA changes caused by sun damage. Scientists also discovered that conventional melanoma is basically the same disease in children and adults.

“That means we need to make it easier for young people to try promising treatments being studied in adults,” said Alberto Pappo, MD, of St. Jude Oncology. “The findings also reinforce the importance of sun protection beginning early in life.”

The research was part of the St. Jude – Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project. The project was launched in 2010 to improve the outlook for young people with some of the toughest childhood cancers. Researchers have since deciphered the normal and cancer genomes of 700 young cancer patients. The results are changing our understanding and treatment of childhood cancer.

The study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Pappo and Armita Bahrami, MD, of St. Jude Pathology, are co-corresponding authors.

March 4, 2015

Read the news release