Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes and is the most severe form of skin cancer. The name melanoma originates from the Greek word μέλας (melas), meaning black or dark, whereas the suffix ‘oma’ denotes swelling or tumor. René Laennec was a French physician who was the first to describe melanoma as a disease entity. After being presented in a lecture in 1804 for the Faculté de Médecine de Paris, it was published in 1806 as a bulletin.1 However, the first surgeon to operate on metastatic melanoma was John Hunter in 1787. Microscopic examination of the specimen that was preserved in the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, revealed it to be a metastatic melanoma.2 Currently, melanoma incidence is rising dramatically worldwide. In the United States, melanoma is the fifth leading cancer in men and the seventh in women.3 Over the past 20 years the incidence of melanoma has more than tripled in the white population in the United States. An overview of trends of incidence of cancer in Europe, from mid 1990s to early 2000, showed for melanoma increasing incidence rates for most European countries, especially in females.4 In the Netherlands, estimated incidences for males, increased from 5.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year to 12.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year between 1980 and 2002, and for females, incidences increased from 7.8 to 15.0 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year.5 A more recent report concerning incidence and mortality of cancer in Europe in the year 2008, showed 84,000 new melanoma cases and 20,100 deaths from melanoma.6 Estimated numbers of new cases in The Netherlands included 1660 males and 2130 females. The risk factors for developing melanoma are both environmental and genetic.

Additional Metadata
Keywords immunetherapy, melanoma, skin cancer
Promotor A.M.M. Eggermont (Alexander)
Publisher Erasmus University Rotterdam
Sponsor European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), Erasmus MC Rotterdam, Instrumentation Laboratory B.V.
Persistent URL
Bouwhuis, M.G. (2011, June 10). Melanoma: Prognostic and Predictive Factors in Interferon Immunotherapy. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from