New search
download case
  • Overview
  • Teaching Notes
  • Answer Key
  • Comments/Replies

Not an Old Person's Disease

Co Authors:

Jennifer Miskowski
Department of Biology
University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse

Anne Galbraith
Department of Biology
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse


The overall goal of this case is to introduce students to the genetic basis of cancer while teaching them about melanoma. The fictional protagonist of the case is 20-year-old Judy. Fair-haired and fair-skinned, Judy covets the kind of suntan that her friend Mariah seems to be able to get effortlessly.  All Judy has to show for the hours she spends in the sun is a bad sunburn. But then Judy notices a mole on her leg that looks odd.  This case was written specifically for a general education health and wellness class taken by students ranging from first-year students to seniors, and from non-science majors to biology majors.

  • Learn about the risk factors of melanoma.
  • Understand that cancer is not necessarily an "old person's disease."
  • Learn that that cancer is caused by mutations in normal genes found in cells.
  • Understand the difference between benign and malignant tumors.
  • Learns the ABCDE's of self-examination for melanoma.
  • Learn that a predisposition to melanoma (and other cancers) can be inherited.
Keywords: Skin cancer; melanoma; tumor; tumor suppressor; proto-oncogene; oncogene; melanocyte; malignant; malignancy
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, General public & informal education
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Discussion
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Medicine (General)  
Date Posted: 09/23/02
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

  Download Teaching Notes

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

  Get Answer Key
Good morning-

I presented this case to my honors anatomy classes. Can you please tell me if this a real case, and if so, what was the result of Judy's biopsy? My students are curious!

Erin Morse

Clearwater, Florida

Author's Reply: This case was not based on a real person, but I am glad that it got your students excited. :)

Anne Galbraith
U of WI - La Crosse
La Crosse, WI

City State:
security code
Enter Security Code: