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Study examines more sensitive test for early stage melanoma

Participants are sought for a study of a potential new way to test for early stage melanoma. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) is the only San Antonio site for the Sunbelt Melanoma Trial. Researchers are examining genes in the lymph cells and blood of patients with melanoma, which is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and results in thousands of deaths annually in this country.

"All study participants have melanoma that is one millimeter or thicker," said Alexander R. Miller, M.D., assistant professor of surgery and co-chief of the division of surgical oncology at UTHSCSA. "This is intermediate-thickness melanoma. It is not necessarily life threatening and is very treatable." He is co-principal investigator of the study with Geoffrey R. Weiss, M.D., chief of medical oncology and professor of medicine at UTHSCSA and chief, medical service and medical oncology section, South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

The researchers are asking whether testing of DNA in lymph cells and blood is more effective than the standard procedure of checking lymph cells under a microscope. "Indications are this is more sensitive," said Dr. Miller, who also serves on the clinical staffs of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center and the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

About 25 patients are needed. For more details, call (210) 616-5990. The Sunbelt Melanoma Trial is supported by Schering-Plough, which makes interferon, the standard treatment for melanoma. Eligibility information is available at

Contact: Will Sansom or Aileen Salinas