Expert Videos

Module 1: Understanding Melanoma

What is melanoma and what causes it?
Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, a specialist in melanoma management and cancer immunotherapy from NYU Langone, explains exactly how melanoma cancer gets started. He describes how the body's pigment cells, or melanocytes, may grow out of control, what areas of the body have these cells, how melanoma spreads and when it becomes serious.
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What are the common and less common causes of melanoma?
Melanoma expert Dr. Jeffrey Weber discusses the most common locations for melanoma on the body, sun exposure as the main cause of melanoma, and how your age when you experience sun damage can make a difference in whether you develop melanoma later in life. He also talks about the less common genetic causes of melanoma, where the disease runs in families.
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What are the different types of melanoma?
Dr. Jeffrey Weber, an expert on melanoma, talks about the less common types of this cancer, which usually occurs on the skin. These different locations include the palms of the hands and soles of the feet (acral melanoma), nail beds (lentiginous melanoma), mucous membranes, such as the vagina or mouth (mucosal melanoma) and eye (uveal or ocular melanoma). Any area of the body with pigment cells can develop melanoma.
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What are the signs and symptoms of melanoma?
Do you know the melanoma alphabet? Expert Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, from NYU Langone Medical Center describes how to check moles on your skin for signs of melanoma using the letters A, B, C, D, and E. He also discusses the most common locations for skin melanoma in both men and women and how other types of melanoma can be found, including by an eye doctor or dentist. Dr. Weber also discusses the challenge of diagnosing mucous membrane melanoma.
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Who is at risk for melanoma?
Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, describes which skin, hair, eye colors, and national backgrounds make melanoma more or less likely. He talks about the different types of melanoma people tend to develop in different regions of the world, where people are most and least likely to develop melanoma, and how your moles and freckles are important clues to your melanoma risk.
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How does melanoma develop in healthy skin?
Melanoma expert Dr. Jeffrey Weber of New York University Langone Medical Center describes the two ways melanoma develops in healthy skin. He discusses how changes in your genetic material, or DNA, can cause a normal freckle or mole to transform into cancer. He also explains that melanoma can happen de novo, or on its own, where no freckle or mole was present.
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Can children get melanoma?
Children can develop melanoma, explains Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD. This is rare, but has become more common in the last 30 years. Melanoma can be difficult to diagnose in children, as the spot may look like a non-cancerous mole called a "blue nevus". Doctors who specialize in melanoma and other skin cancers may be more able to recognize melanoma in children because they see more cancers overall.
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What are the risk factors for melanoma?
Dr. Jeffrey Weber, a melanoma expert, discusses the hair, skin, and eye colors of people most likely to develop melanoma. He also talks about how your lifetime sun exposure, tendency to get a sunburn instead of tan, and even your travel habits can affect your melanoma risk. Dr. Weber also talks about genetic mutations associated with risk, including the P16 mutation in families.
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Can melanoma be prevented?
Dr. Jeffrey Weber, an expert on melanoma, talks about safe sun exposure, including wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen, and avoiding tanning and occasional sun exposure for long periods of time. He discusses the best times for outdoor activities and gives a list of lifestyle factors that can help you prevent skin melanoma.
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Module 2: Diagnosing Melanoma

How is melanoma diagnosed?
Cancer expert Dr. Jeffrey Weber of NYU Langone Medical Center explains how a dermatologist can take a sample of tissue, called a biopsy, to diagnose melanoma in its early stages. He discusses how an experienced dermatologist may recognize skin changes that lead to a biopsy and how a specialist called a pathologist examines the biopsy tissue in a lab to look for cancer.
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What kind of biopsies are used for melanoma?
Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, explains the different kinds of biopsies used to diagnose melanoma, including a punch biopsy and an excisional biopsy. He also explains the factors that help the doctor determine what type of biopsy is needed for diagnosis.
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How are imaging tests used for melanoma?
Dr. Jeffrey Weber, a melanoma expert from NYU Langone Medical Center, discusses the use of imaging tests, including CT scans (CAT scans) and MRIs, in melanoma. He talks about how often imaging tests may be done and what types of symptoms might lead to the need for imaging.
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What are the stages of melanoma?
Melanoma expert Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, talks about stages 1 through 4 of melanomas that appear on the skin, why doctors "stage" them, and how staging helps doctors and patients decide on treatment. He also discusses how skin, eye (ocular) and mucous membrane melanomas are staged differently.
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Should I get genetic testing for melanoma?
Dr. Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, a melanoma expert from NYU Langone Medical Center, explains which stages of melanoma most benefit from a genetic test, when genetic testing is not helpful and how it is done. He discusses what the BRAF gene means for melanoma and its treatment, including the use of BRAF-blocking drugs.
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Module 3: Treating Melanoma

What are the main treatment options for melanoma?
Melanoma expert Dr. Jeffrey Weber from NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center discusses the importance of surgery for early-stage melanoma. Immunotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapy are additional options for stages 2, 3 and 4. Dr. Weber talks about which options work best at different stages and for different patients, including new drugs that can be injected or rubbed on the skin.
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How is melanoma treated with surgery?
Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, explains wide local excision, the surgery technique used to treat early-stage melanoma. He describes how surgeons find and remove sentinel lymph nodes where the cancer has spread, and the options for removing a small tumor that remains after drug therapy.
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How is melanoma treated with immunotherapy?
A melanoma expert from NYU Langone, Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, describes how immunotherapy works with your body's own immune system to kill tumor cells, and how this type of treatment has helped patients with later stages of melanoma. He discusses how checkpoint inhibitors and other immune system drugs work and how these drugs may work better when combined with each other. In melanoma, checkpoint inhibitors block proteins called PD-1 and CTLA-4. Several other kinds of immunotherapy drugs may also be used to treat melanoma.
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How is melanoma treated with targeted therapy?
Dr. Jeffrey Weber, an oncologist from New York University Langone Medical Center, describes a form of precision medicine called targeted therapy. Taken in pill form, it may be used after surgery for later stage melanoma. It can be effective for treating melanomas that have certain gene changes and with certain aggressive tumors. About six of every 10 patients with advanced melanoma have a change in a gene called BRAF. Some others, especially if the melanoma starts in the mucous membranes, have a change in a gene called C-KIT.
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How is melanoma treated with radiation therapy?
Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, describes stereotactic radiosurgery, or SRS, to treat melanoma that has spread to the brain.
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How can I cope with melanoma treatment side effects?
Dr. Jeffrey Weber, a melanoma expert at NYU Langone, talks about the importance of telling your healthcare team about any side effects from immunotherapy or targeted therapy. Communication is essential because it may help choose a treatment and prevent life-threatening side effects from some treatments.
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Why are melanoma clinical trials so important?
Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, explains that almost anyone with melanoma can take part in a clinical trial. Your dermatologist or surgeon may be able to help you find an appropriate trial. Clinical trials are an important step in discovering new treatments for melanoma as well as new ways to detect, diagnose, and reduce the risk of disease.
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How is melanoma treated with neoadjuvant therapy?
This treatment is given before surgery, explains Dr. Jeffrey Weber, melanoma expert from NYU Langone Medical Center. He discusses what stage of melanoma may benefit most from neoadjuvant immunotherapy and what the results may be.
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Is chemotherapy used for the treatment of melanoma?
Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, discusses the limited role of chemotherapy in melanoma, with some possible new treatments on the horizon.
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Module 4: Genetic Mutations and Melanoma

What happens during a physical exam for melanoma?
Laura Ferris, MD, PhD, dermatologist and melanoma specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, describes what happens during a physical examination for possible melanoma. This includes questions the doctor may ask and areas they examine. Dr. Ferris also explains what "ABCDE" and "the ugly duckling" mean, how a dermatoscope is used, and why examining lymph nodes is important. Learn what to look for at home and the questions to ask your doctor about melanoma.
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What is a skin biopsy and how is it done?
Melanoma expert Laura Ferris, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh, describes how a skin biopsy for melanoma is different from biopsy for other skin cancers and what it can tell your doctor about your risk and treatment options. She also discusses newer tests, such as PLA, that reveal genetic mutations, types of biopsy and alternatives to biopsy in some cases.
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What is genetic screening for melanoma?
Melanoma expert Laura Ferris, MD, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, explains screening to find genetic changes, or mutations, that can cause melanoma in the skin. This may include blood tests to look for oncogenes – genes that cause cancer – and non-functioning tumor suppressor genes, problems with the genes that help prevent cancer. Dr. Ferris explains that genetic screening can also include asking about a family history of skin cancer and considering how your genes for skin, hair, and eye color and past medical history make melanoma more or less likely.
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Understanding results of genetic testing for melanoma
Melanoma expert Dr. Laura Ferris of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explains what "positive" and "negative" mean in genetic testing. Learn about the main mutations linked to melanoma, how CDKN2A and BAP1 affect your risk of other cancers, and when and how often to see a dermatologist if you do have a mutation. Dr. Ferris also discusses the pros and cons of genetic testing and why you may still be at risk even if no mutations are found.
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Which gene mutations are implicated in melanoma?
Laura Ferris, MD, PhD, a dermatologist and melanoma expert at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, discusses BRAF, c-KIT, CDKN2A, NRAS, map-kinase, and other mutations involved in melanoma. She explains who may benefit from testing and how learning about gene mutations can help even some time after the original melanoma is removed.
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This educational activity has been developed by the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), and Mechanisms in Medicine Inc.

This activity is supported by independent educational grants from Bristol-Myers Squibb, DermTech and Genentech.

Bristol-Myers Squibb

This website is part of the Animated Patient™ series developed by Mechanisms in Medicine Inc., to provide highly visual formats of learning for patients to improve their understanding, make informed decisions, and partner with their healthcare professionals for optimal outcomes.