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What causes melanoma and other types of cancer?

This minds-on, analysis and discussion activity introduces students to basic cancer biology, somatic mutations, and regulation of the cell cycle.

Students view an introductory video about a teen with melanoma and then complete six sections: “What is melanoma?”, “How does a melanoma develop?”, “Why do melanoma cells divide too much?”, “Environment and inherited genes influence your risk of melanoma.”, “Different Types of Cancer”, and “Research Challenge”.

Concepts covered include cell cycle checkpoints, somatic mutations, and DNA repair enzymes

The Student Handout is available in the first two attached files and as Google doc designed for use in online instruction and distance learning. The Teacher Notes, available in the last two attached files, provide instructional suggestions and background information and explain how this activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Melanoma biology SHO.docx3.13 MB
Melanoma biology SHO.pdf635.84 KB
Melanoma biology TN.docx4.01 MB
Melanoma biology TN.pdf898.16 KB


iwaldron's picture

2024 revision

In the Student Handout, I have clarified and streamlined many of the questions and figures. Also, I have expanded and clarified the explanation of cell cycle checkpoints. At the end of the Student Handout, I have added a section on the biology of different types of cancer and included an opportunity for the students to research a question of interest to them.


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