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Written by Jessica Lynn Melanoma

Researchers Develop Deeper Understanding of Acral Lentiginous Melanoma

Have you ever heard of acral lentiginous melanoma? This rare form of skin cancer typically develops on nail beds, on the palms of the hands, or soles of the feet. Because of misconceptions around melanoma, particularly around melanoma only forming in sun-touched areas of the skin, acral lentiginous melanoma is often under-diagnosed – or not diagnosed until later stages. This rare cancer is also somewhat difficult to treat. On top of that, past research has developed little understanding of how this melanoma forms or progresses. But according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, this may be about to change. 

Single Cell RNA-seq Research

In a study led by a research team at the Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, researchers sought to understand the immune environment, as well as cellular and molecular compositions, of acral lentiginous melanoma in comparison with other forms of melanoma. To do so, the team mapped the immune environment using single cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq). Learn more about scRNA-seq in medical research

The team tested five samples of primary acral lentiginous melanoma, as well as four samples of cancer which had metastasized. 

After further testing, researchers found a suppressed immune environment, as well as numerous transcriptional and translational factors. While more research is needed, these findings could point researchers in the direction of future therapeutic targets and therapeutic options for patients. 

Interested in learning more about this study? Take a look at the full research and findings published in Clinical Cancer Research

About Acral Lentiginous Melanoma (ALM)

As described above, acral lentiginous melanoma is a rare and malignant form of skin cancer that appears on the palms, soles, and nail beds. Unlike other forms of skin cancer, ALM is not associated with or linked to higher sun exposure. Some researchers hypothesize that ALM may have some sort of genetic basis. This cancer is more common in individuals over 40 years old. Symptoms and characteristics include: 

  • Moles with a rugged or uneven border
  • A new streak in a nail that was not caused by an accident or bruise
    • Alternately, a nail streak that has damaged the nail
  • Asymmetrical moles
  • A dark spot of skin with a clear border from lighter skin around it
  • Abnormally colored (brown, blue, black, gray) moles
  • An elevated, thickened patch of skin on the palms or soles
  • Moles larger than ¼ inch in size 
  • Any mole or lesion that continues to change in size, shape, or color

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Last modified: May 16, 2023