Unlike leukemia, in which specific reciprocal translocations are frequently observed, melanomas involve complex recurring chromosome anomalies. Analysis of the constituted genome of melanoma patients should identify cancer susceptibility genes and at-risk individuals in families with a history of melanoma. The first of these genes to be cloned is the cell cycle regulatory protein inhibitor-the p16 gene-and a second gene locus for melanoma predisposition has been linked to the chromosome 1p36 band region. Detection of the most common somatic genetic alterations in melanoma enhances our understanding of molecular mechanisms of melanoma development and may lead to genetic markers in melanoma. Some alterations may be used to identify interesting subpopulations. Others may be of prognostic value when they are considered in tandem with clinical data.
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