Melanoma is a form of cancer that develops from the pigment producing cells of the skin. It has become increasingly more common in recent years and this is thought to be caused by sun exposure in pale skinned people on holiday or recreationally (eg gardening or playing sport). As many pale skinned peoples now have access to more sunny holidays, the number of cases of melanoma has increased dramatically.
Most people who get a melanoma have it treated surgically and are followed up in clinic, but happily do not have any further recurrences. However some do have recurrences (or secondary tumours) and melanoma can then be very serious. Medical staff use the term “primary melanoma” for a new tumour on the skin and “secondary melanoma” for a recurrence (spread of the melanoma from the primary to other parts of the body).
Although in many parts of the world melanoma is becoming more common, it is still unusual to have more than one person with melanoma in a single family. When more than one person has melanoma, especially if one or more of those people have had more than one primary melanoma, then this implies that the family have inherited genes which have made them especially susceptible to melanoma. GenoMEL was created to do research to help families with more than one melanoma patient. This information section contains information for melanoma families but also information for newly diagnosed melanoma patients or patients who have recently had a recurrence of their melanoma.