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MCAT

Unit 2: Lesson 3

Foundation 3: Organ Systems

Skin cancer prevention

Problem

Skin cancer is the most common cause of cancer in the United States. Many forms of sunscreen help prevent against UV-B radiation which has been linked to basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Most sunscreens, however, notably lack any protection from UV-A radiation which is known to cause a more severe form of skin cancer known as malignant melanoma. Zinc oxide based compounds have shown efficacy at repelling UV-A radiation, thus decreasing the risk of malignant melanoma.
One dermatologist is in the process of developing a new form of sunscreen that incorporates zinc oxide to protect against UV-A and UV-B radiation. She has designed an experiment where half of the subjects apply her novel sunscreen while the other half apply standard sunscreen every day for four and a half years. Following the study, she finds that 2, percent of the subjects applying her novel sunscreen developed malignant melanoma while the occurrence was 8, percent in those applying the standard sunscreen.
Melanoma is considered the most fascinating of all skin cancers as it may cause a variety of initial symptoms, many related to metastatic spread rather than its initial growth in the skin. What characteristic is most specific to the primary cell from which melanoma is known to arise?
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