Minisymposium on skin cancer to be held May 3

April 28, 2004

The Penn State Cancer Institute will mark Melanoma Awareness Month with the third annual Minisymposium on Skin Cancer. The event, which is free to the public, will be held from noon to 4 p.m. May 3 in Lecture Room D, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey Medical Center.

"The minisymposium will bring together patients and leading clinicians and researchers to address the latest advances in basic and clinical research on melanoma," said Gavin Robertson, assistant professor of pharmacology, pathology and dermatology in the College of Medicine, and event organizer. "This year, presentations from my colleagues at Penn State College of Medicine and researchers from the University of Pennsylvania will center on mutant V599EBRAF, a mutation found in more than 60 percent of non-inherited melanomas."

Topics will include how the mutation of BRAF causes melanoma; how it promotes vessel development in tumors; whether a BRAF mutation is a warning sign of melanoma; and what clinical trials are under way to therapeutically target this important melanoma-causing gene. In addition, melanoma survivor Joe Herrle will share how melanoma has affected his life and what this research means to melanoma patients. Closing remarks will be made by Dr. Thomas Loughran, director of the Penn State Cancer Institute.

Of the three forms of skin cancer, melanoma is the most likely to result in death. Each year the number of cases of melanoma increases by 4 percent, making it one of the cancers with the fastest-increasing incidence in the U.S. In 2003, one in 65 people had a lifetime risk of getting the disease; it is projected that by 2010, one in 50 Americans will be afflicted by melanoma. Detected early, melanoma has a 100 percent cure rate.

"Each year melanoma affects many Pennsylvanians," Robertson said. "The goal of this program is to educate and advance the public's understanding of this terrible disease."

The event is sponsored by the Elizabethtown Rotary Club, Penn State Cancer Institute and Penn State College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology. Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits will be available for health-care personnel.

For more information, contact Diane Sheehan, Penn State Cancer Institute, at (717) 531-1050 or or Gavin Robertson at

NOTE: Penn State Dermatology at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center will offer free skin cancer screenings from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 1. The screenings will be held in the dermatology clinic, Suite 100, University Physician Center, 500 University Drive, Hershey. Pre-registration is required. To schedule an appointment, call the 24-hour CareLine at (800) 243-1455.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009