Scientists researching melanoma reported Thursday that they have found a gene responsible for a hereditary form of the deadly skin cancer associated with abnormal skin moles.
The gene is associated with dysplastic nevi, larger-than-normal moles that change color or shape and are prone to becoming cancerous.
Up to 12% of cases of cutaneous malignant melanoma occur in people whose families are also prone to the cancer and usually in association with the abnormal moles.
The scientists, headed by Sherri Bale of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., located the gene in members of six families susceptible to melanoma.
Using molecular genetic techniques and gene linkage analyses, the scientists found the gene near the end of the upper arm of chromosome 1--the largest of the 46 chromosomes in human beings.