Determining the market for a new vaccine
Melanoma is a degenerative malignancy of the pigment-producing cells, which are found predominantly in the outer layer of the skin. Usually, melanoma begins on the surface of the skin, but it can grow down into deeper layers, ultimately reaching the blood and lymphatic vessels, and metastasize, causing life-threatening illness. When detected early it is a curable condition, but can be fatal if allowed to progress and spread. Melanoma is currently the fastest growing cancer worldwide, and is the most common cancer in young adults 20-30 years of age. The primary treatment of melanoma is the surgical excision of the lesion. However, despite appropriate surgical treatment, the mortality rates remain very high; therefore, the field is open for new experimental treatment options. Melanoma vaccines are immunotherapies, which attempt to stimulate the patient's own immune system to respond to tumor antigens. Despite the fact that several clinical trials to test melanoma vaccines have been discontinued, there is a generally positive attitude regarding this promising therapeutic option. The treatment of melanoma is in the hands of dermatologists and oncologists, but differences exist between the United States and Europe, as well as across European countries. Treatment algorithms and patient flows are not very well known, and only ad-hoc marketing research allows a clear understanding of how patients are treated and the potential of a new vaccine in this market.
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