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New Research Into Melanoma Risk

New Research Into Melanoma Risk

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reportingMelanoma is the most dangerous type of invasive skin cancer. It can spread quickly without a sign. But if caught early, melanoma can be curable.

New research identifies who is most a risk for multiple tumors.

Senator John McCain is now cancer free. But he has had an ongoing battle with melanoma. In 1993, he had surgery to remove one from his shoulder.

John McCain/ 1993: "They are very confident that they can take care of it with this operation"

Seven years later, the Arizona lawmaker endured more surgery to remove new melanomas-- one from his temple and another from his upper arm.

John McCain/ 2000: "It's part of my misspent youth. I spent too much time in the sun."

This year, roughly 60-thousand new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States. And about eight-thousand people will die from the disease.

A new study reveals who is at risk for getting melanoma more than once.

Daniel Coit, M.D./ Memorial Sloan-Kettering: "I think the message of this study to patients really is that if you've had a melanoma, you are at lifetime risk for developing a second or third primary melanoma."

If you were diagnosed with a melanoma, researchers say your risk of developing a new melanoma is about 11 percent.

If you also have a family history of melanoma or if you have an odd-looking freckle or mole called dysplastic nevi, your risk goes up to about 20 percent.

If you've had two melanomas, the risk of having a third is even higher.

Dr. Coit: "You have up to a 30% chance of getting a third primary melanoma."

Researchers say people in that high-risk group like Bernard Korman need to get checked often by a determatologist for the rest of their lives.

Mr. Korman says the attention he got at his frequent check-ups saved his life.

Bernard Korman/Has Multiple Melanomas: "And the fact that I'm approaching 80 I attribute to the fact that I did get that kind of attention."

The incidence of melanoma is on the rise in America. It is the only skin cancer capable of spreading to other organs in the body through the bloodstream.

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