Bob Marley lost his battle with acral melanoma in 1981. Doctors learned more about Marley’s cancer recently.
The Express is reporting that UK scientists have discovered that Marley’s form of skin cancer, acral melanoma is genetically distinct from other more common forms of skin cancer.
According to a study published in the journal Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research on Monday, Marley’s acral melanoma most often affects the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, nail-beds and other hairless parts of the skin.
Unlike other more common types of melanoma, it’s not caused by UV damage from the sun. Marley passed away after a four-year battle with acral melanoma, which began on Marley’s toe.
The team, from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute at The University of Manchester, sequenced the tumors of five patients with Marley’s acral melanoma and combined this with data from three other patients. They then compared the pattern of genetic faults found in these eight tumors with that of more common types of skin cancer.
This resulted in the discovery that the DNA in Marley’s cancer, acral melanoma, functions differently than other forms of skin cancer. The DNA in Marley’s acral melanoma would break off in large chunks and reattach elsewhere, far different from the smaller changes the DNA makes in other skin cancers.
The International Business Times reports that study leader Professor Richard Marais, director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, at The University of Manchester, said: “Too much UV radiation from the sun or sunbeds can lead to a build-up of DNA damage that increases skin cancer risk. But acral skin cancer is different because the gene faults that drive it aren’t caused by UV damage. Pinpointing these faults is a major step towards understanding what causes this unique form of cancer, and how it can best be treated.”
Nell Barrie, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said that they hoped that the study that enabled them to find these variations in the DNA of those suffering from Marley’s acral melanoma could help in developing a way of treating the disease. Since Marley’s acral melanoma is extremely dangerous and leads to death, and an aggressive type of skin cancer, an aggressive form of treatment may be needed.
Barrie stated that their scientists were working mainly to improve the survival for all cancer patients, even if it was a rare form of the disease. : “We hope that understanding the faults that drive acral melanoma will unlock better ways of treating this rare yet aggressive type of skin cancer. And this is why skin cancer will be a key research focus for the Manchester Cancer Research Centre,” said Berrie.