Doctors and patients gathered at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland Saturday for a conference on melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
The Knight Cancer Institute has launched a registry for patients and family members. More than 3,000 people are participating in the confidential database.
Dr. Sancy Leachman, director of melanoma research at the Knight Cancer Institute, says her first goal is to get patients involved in education and outreach efforts.
Leachman says education is key because people can identify melanoma on their skin if they know what to look for.
“If you catch a melanoma early, the chances you’re going to survive that is almost 100 percent. If you catch a melanoma when it’s late, the chances you’re going to survive is maybe 15 percent, 20 percent,” she says.
Leachman says having a registry also makes it easier to enroll patients quickly in research projects and clinical trials.
One research question she’s hoping patients can help her answer is what obstacles prevent some people from detecting their cancer in the early stages.
There’s a lot of reasons why somebody’s diagnosis might be delayed, and what we really want to do is attack each and every one of those obstacles,” she says.
Oregon has the 5th highest rate of new melanoma cases in the country.