Timeline of melanoma

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This is a timeline of melanoma, describing especially major discoveries and advances in treatment against the disease.

Year/period Key developments
Prior to 1750 Hippocrates is considered to be the first to record a description of melanoma, which he describes as melas, meaning dark, and oma, meaning tumor, in Greek.[1] Later on, Highmore (1651) and Bonet (1651), among others, make numerous references to “fatal black tumors with metastases and black fluid in the body”.[2]
1750s–1830s Period of first operations and definition of melanoma as a disease. John Hunter is recorded as the first to operate on a patient and Laennec is the first to distinguish melanoma as a disease separate from others. Carswell introduces the term melanoma.[1]
1840s–1900s Knowledge progresses in treatment. Surgical anesthesia is adopted,[2] and guidelines for surgical treatment against melanoma consolidate. Advanced melanoma is recognized as untreatable.[1]
Twentieth century The etiology and genetic involvement in melanoma are discovered. Characteristics like skin, hair and eye color are found to have impact on melanoma development.[1] Driver genetic mutations in melanoma are discovered.[2]
1970s–1990s A growing number of studies in this period suggest that sun exposure plays an important role in the development of some melanomas. In the 1980s, the public health community and advocacy groups begin cautioning the public about the potential risks of sun exposure. Dermoscopy becomes available in the 1990s.[3]
Present time Today, melanoma is treated by surgery, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.[4] Melanoma is more common in areas that are mostly Caucasian.[5]

Full timeline[edit]

Year/period Type of event Event Location
1757 Development Scottish surgeon John Hunter is credited with the first surgical removal of a melanoma in the Western medical literature, having successfully removed a recurrent melanoma from the jaw of a 35-year-old man.[2] London, United Kingdom
1804 Discovery French physician Rene Laennec coines the term melanose, being the first to realize that melanoma is a distinct disease.[2] Paris, France
1820 Discovery British physician William Norris is the first to note the heritable nature of some melanomas, some 50 years before Mendel presents his work on inheritance.[2] United Kingdom
1826 Book Thomas Fawdington publishes A Case of Melanosis, with General Observations on the Pathology of the Interesting Disease.[2] United Kingdom
1829 Development French anatomist Jean Cruveilhier publishes Anatomie Pathologique du Corps Humain, being the first to describe melanomas of the hand, foot and vulva.[2] Paris, France
1838 Development Scottish pathologist Robert Carswell publishes Illustrations of the Elementary Forms of Disease, which includes detailed drawings of melanoma metastases. Carswell is credited with coining the word melanoma.[2] London, United Kingdom
1840–1844 Development British surgeon Samuel Cooper publishes The First Lines of the Theory and Practice of Surgery. Cooper recognizes that the advanced stages of melanomas are untreatable, stating "the only chance for benefit depends upon the early removal of the disease…", which is largely true to this day.[2] London, United Kingdom
1851 Development Report in medical journal The Lancet describes surgical anesthesia being available for the first time.[2]
1853 Development English surgeon James Paget describes the transition of melanoma from a radial growth phase to a vertical growth phase.[2] London, United Kingdom
1892 Development British surgeon Herbert Snow advocates in favor of melanoma being treated by excision and anticipatory gland excision.[2] United Kingdom
1905 Development Scottish physician William Handley analyzes the lymphatic spread of secondary melanoma on a woman’s leg. Handley suggests the surround subcutaneous tissue and lymph nodes should be removed, thus guiding the surgical treatment for melanoma for the next 50 years.[2]
1956 Discovery Australian mathematician Henry Lancaster makes the first connection between UV radiation exposure from the sun and the incidence of melanoma. Lancaster observes that the risk of melanoma development, particularly in light skin populations, is directly associated with latitude or the intensity of sunlight.[2]
1961 Development Isolated limb perfusion technique is introduced to help doctors deliver higher than usual doses of chemotherapy to an arm or leg where melanoma tumors have spread.[3] United States
1965 Organization The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is founded as an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organization of the United Nations. Its role is to conduct and coordinate research into the causes of cancer.[6] Lyon, France
1968 Discovery Researchers first report an association between pancreatic cancer and multiple nevi, and melanoma.[7]
1968 Report A review of 650 melanoma describes intra-arterial melphalan as being the most effective systemic treatment available for widely disseminated melanoma.[2] United Kingdom
1970 Development Depth of invasion is first reported as a prognostic factor in melanoma by pathologist Alexander Breslow. The Breslow's depth develops as a standard prognostic factor in melanoma of the skin, until its replacement by the AJCC staging system.[2] George Washington University, United States
1975 Policy FDA approves dacarbazine for stage IV melanoma.[8] United States
1978 Discovery Researchers identify hereditary Familial Atypical Multiple Mole Melanoma Syndrome, which is associated with an approximately 50 percent risk of developing melanoma by age 50.[3][7]
1979 Organization The Skin Cancer Foundation is established. Its goal is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer by means of public and professional education, medical training, and research.[9] New York City, United States
1980–1989 Discovery Researchers begin to demonstrate that protein interferon alfa-2b can help reduce melanoma recurrences after surgery by boosting the immune system.[3]
1983 Discovery Less extensive surgery is found effective for removing melanoma tumors. Instead of removing up to two inches of skin and tissue surrounding a tumor, clinical trials show that margins of three quarters of an inch or less around the tumor are sufficient. This refinement makes recovery easier and helps reduce the cosmetic impact of surgery.[3][10]
1984 Discovery Activating NRAS mutations are first identified in melanoma cell lines, and subsequently in short-term cell cultures grown from a melanoma patient.[2]
1987 Development Scientists first develop an experimental procedure called adoptive cell transfer, in which one or more of the patient's tumors are removed and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes are extracted, which are then grown in a laboratory to boost their ability to fight the cancer and are returned to the patient, often in combination with chemotherapy. This personalized immunotherapy approach is shown to shrink melanoma tumors in about half of patients whose tumor infiltrating lymphocytes are successfully treated in the laboratory.[3]
1992 Development Surgical technique called sentinel lymph node biopsy is introduced to assess the spread of melanoma to nearby lymph nodes.[3]
1996 Policy Interferon alfa-2b drug is approved as first adjuvant treatment for patients who have a high risk of melanoma recurrence after their tumors are surgically removed.[3]
1998 Development Second immunotherapy drug Interleukin-2 (IL-2), becomes available to treat patients with advanced melanoma.[3]
2002 Discovery Researchers learn that melanomas occurring in areas of the body not exposed to the sun may be genetically different than those arising in sun-exposed areas.[3]
2002 Discovery Systematic genetic screen identifies activating BRAF mutations in the majority of human cutaneous melanomas.[2]
2005 Discovery Studies show that cases of all types of skin cancer, including melanoma, are increasing in children and young adults.[3]
2008 Discovery Dermoscopy, which involves direct, microscopic examination of moles and skin lesions, is found more accurate than a doctor's visual examination for identifying potential melanomas on the surface of the skin.[3]
2008 Organization AIM at Melanoma Foundation is established as a non-profit international organization focused on increasing support for melanoma research.[11][12] Plano, Texas, United States
2009 Report A review of U.S. National Cancer Institute data shows that the number of new cases of melanoma increased 45 percent among non-Hispanic whites between 1992 and 2004.[3] United States
2009 Study Researchers from The Cancer Genome Atlas project begin mapping the melanoma genome. With use of modern techniques to catalog the genetic defects associated with different cancers, the goal is to improve prevention, early detection, and treatment against melanoma.[3] United States
2010 Discovery The drug ipilimumab is found to improve survival and delay disease progression in patients whose advanced melanoma progresses despite other therapies. It is the first drug shown to improve survival for patients with advanced melanoma.[3][13]
2010 Discovery After reviewing more than 2,000 patient records, researchers conclude that people who use indoor tanning beds are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than non-users. Based on this, the International Agency for Research on Cancer declares that tanning devices are carcinogens.[3]
2011 Discovery BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib is found to confer a survival benefit in randomized phase III clinical trials against melanoma.[2]
2014 Organization Australian Melanoma Research Foundation is established. It provides services to the public, including a daily measurement of UV levels in Australian cities (Australia has a very high rate of melanoma).[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Melanoma History". Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Vito W. Rebecca, Vernon K. Sondak, Keiran S. M. Smalley (2012). "A Brief History of Melanoma: From Mummies to Mutations". Melanoma Res. 22: 114–22. doi:10.1097/CMR.0b013e328351fa4d. PMC 3303163. PMID 22395415.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Progress and timeline of melanoma". Archived from the original on 21 November 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  4. ^ "Melanoma skin cancer treatment". Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  5. ^ World Cancer Report 2014. World Health Organization. 2014. pp. Chapter 5.14. ISBN 9283204298.
  6. ^ "IARC". Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  7. ^ a b Eckerle Mize D, Bishop M, Resse E, Sluzevich J. "Familial Atypical Multiple Mole Melanoma Syndrome". PMID 21249757.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ SHAILENDER BHATIA, SCOTT S. TYKODI, JOHN A. THOMPSON (May 2009). "Treatment of Metastatic Melanoma: An Overview". Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.). 23: 488–96. PMC 2737459. PMID 19544689.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Skin Cancer Foundation". Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Long-Term Results of a Prospective Surgical Trial Comparing 2 cm vs. 4 cm Excision Margins for 740 Patients With 1–4 mm Melanomas". Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  11. ^ "AIM". Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  12. ^ "AIM". Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  13. ^ Lipson EJ1, Drake CG. (Nov 2011). "Ipilimumab: an anti-CTLA-4 antibody for metastatic melanoma". Clin Cancer Res. 17: 6958–62. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-1595. PMC 3575079. PMID 21900389.
  14. ^ "World's largest melanoma research biobank helps solve cancer riddle". Retrieved 15 August 2016.