TAMPA, Fla. – May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. More than 5 million people in the United States are diagnosed with the disease each year, making it the most common cancer in our country. While prevention and screening are keys to driving down those statistics, better understanding of skin cancer, including what causes and drives it are a big focus of the Donald A. Adam Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center of Excellence at Moffitt Cancer Center.

A team of melanoma experts from Moffitt’s Center of Excellence have been awarded a $900,000 three-year grant from the Melanoma Research Alliance to define and target what drives acral melanoma. Acral melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer that appears on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or under the nails. It is the most common form of skin cancer affecting African-Americans.

“While anyone can develop acral melanoma, the cause isn’t always known. It doesn’t appear to be related sun exposure and some research has shown there may be genetic risk factors,” said study principal investigator Keiran S. Smalley, director of Moffitt’s Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center of Excellence. “Our team would like to learn more about this type of melanoma in hopes of offering better prevention and treatment strategies.”

Smalley’s research team will include Drs. Y. Ann Chen, John Koomen, Jane Messina, Jamie Teer and Florian Karreth.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 49 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is a Top 10 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2 million square feet to research and patient care. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 5,700 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.1 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on FacebookTwitter and YouTube