Skin cancer cells can spread through following a trail of a naturally occurring molecules in the body, new research has found.
When melanoma cells come in contact with a fatty acid molecule called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) a signal prompts the cells to travel and spread in the body, according to scientists from Cancer Research UK in a study published in the journal PLOS Biology.
The cancer cells can spread quickly once they come in contact with the LPA molecule, as fast as a millimeter per day, the researchers said. This new research could lead to further analysis by scientists into how melanoma cells break down LPA molecules and if it is possible to stop the cancer from spreading.
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells and most often develops on skin exposed to the sun. But this common form of cancer can also occur on areas of your skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. There are three major types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin the pigment that gives your skin its color. Melanoma can also form in your eyes and, rarely, in internal organs, such as your intestines.
Each year in the US, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In 2014, it is estimated that in the U.S. over 43,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in men and over 32,000 cases in women.