InterMEL is an international consortium of 12 centers with the goal to identify features of the tumor within the individual cells of the tumor that are associated with survival in patients with stage II and III melanoma.
Currently, patients are told of their prognosis when diagnosed based solely on their stage of their disease. However, the mortality rate for individuals diagnosed at stages II or III varies widely (13% to 68%), and scientists have little understanding about why some tumors are more aggressive than others. We believe that looking at different genetic features within tumor cells will help us identify which melanomas would be more likely to grow or come back. The identification of these tumor markers associated with mortality could help stratify patients into those with a good prognosis and those with a poor prognosis. This would dramatically improve clinical care and patient outcomes since identifying those with a poor prognosis may allow access to additional therapies that could prevent future melanoma recurrence and, importantly, those with a good prognosis could avoid these often toxic therapies.
Our international consortium of universities and research institutions around the world has collected genetic data and tumor tissue from nine groups of patients with stage II and III melanoma. These total over 1000 patients, half who died from melanoma within five years of diagnosis and half who lived for at least five years.
Our group will carefully study whether genetic variations of many different kinds in the melanoma tumors is different among those who survived for 5 years compared to those who did not. The ultimate goal is to provide more information to outcome prediction beyond the features used in determining the stage, giving doctors and patients more information when deciding how aggressive they should be with the treatment of their melanoma, and ultimately improving the survival of many, and avoiding unnecessary treatment for others.
Our study represents the cutting edge of molecular melanoma research. Our website contains information about our research consortium, our ongoing research progress, and material for melanoma patients, as well as the general public.