FRIENDSWOOD, Texas, Feb. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Castle Biosciences Inc., a leading developer of diagnostic and prognostic tests for rare cancers, today announced the launch of an educational program dedicated to the information needs of Stage I and II skin (cutaneous) melanoma patients and their caregivers. The program kicks off with the launch of an animated video, "Predicting Risk in Early Stage Melanoma" that describes how physicians stage melanoma cancers, and how the availability of a new genomic test can further clarify an individual's risk of the cancer returning.
Each year, about 60,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with early stage melanoma. Among these non-metastatic patients, the incidence of the cancer returning and becoming deadly varies widely, from a low of about 3% for a Stage Ia patient, to a high of 47% for a Stage IIc patient within five years.
"Given that a minority of patients with Stage I and II melanoma will metastasize, one of the biggest challenges facing physicians is knowing which ones are at greatest risk," commented Derek Maetzold, President and CEO of Castle Biosciences. "Our efforts are designed to improve the accuracy of traditional staging so that patients and physicians have actionable information to help select the most appropriate follow-up care based on their actual individual risk profile."
In addition to staging and metastatic risk, the educational program will highlight melanoma screening, prevention techniques, and emerging therapies. It will also provide insights into how genomics is driving personalized medicine and impacting patient care. More information about these educational efforts can be accessed on multiple online platforms, including Facebook.com/KnowYourMelanoma, @skinmelanoma on Twitter, or via the website www.skinmelanoma.com.
Melanoma cancers are classified as Stage I, II, III or IV based on characteristics such as tumor thickness, mitotic rate, ulceration, presence of lymph node involvement and distant metastasis. The outcomes of a specific stage are determined from large groups of patients whose cancers share similar characteristics. Addressing a need to more accurately identify "individual" risk in early stage patients, Castle Biosciences' new genomic test, DecisionDx-Melanoma, analyzes a set of genes within a sample of a patient's tumor. The test classifies Stage I and II melanomas as either Class 1 "low risk" or Class 2 "high risk," contributing substantial new information about the tumor's predisposition to spread, independent of what traditional staging methods predict. Staging combined with results from the genomic test can provide a clearer picture of an individual's risk, helping determine the most appropriate follow-up care.
To watch the educational video animation go to
Cutaneous melanoma is diagnosed in approximately 76,000 people in the U.S. each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Seventy-five percent are diagnosed as Stage I or II, meaning there is no evidence of the melanoma spreading beyond the primary tumor. Melanoma is not the most prevalent form of skin cancer, but it is the most aggressive. Unlike other more common skin malignancies like basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, melanoma often spreads widely to other parts of the body, either via the lymphatic or blood system, resulting in cancers of distant organs including the brain or lungs. So, while it represents just 4% of skin cancers, melanoma accounts for about 80% of skin cancer-related deaths.
Addressing a need for more accurate prognostic information than current AJCC staging methods, the DecisionDx-Melanoma test was developed to help predict metastatic risk based on an individual's tumor biology. The genomic test measures the activity or "expression" of a set of 31 genes within the patient's tumor to classify low and high risk.
About Castle Biosciences
Castle Biosciences is a molecular diagnostics and prognostics company dedicated to helping patients and their physicians make the best possible decisions about their treatment and follow-up care based on the individual molecular signature of their tumor. The Company currently offers tests for patients with skin melanoma and other rare cancers including uveal melanoma, thymoma, esophageal cancer, and brain cancers. More information can be found at www.castlebiosciences.com.
SOURCE Castle Biosciences