Melanoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the skin cells called melanocytes (cells that color the skin).
Melanoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the skin cells called melanocytes (cells that color the skin).

Malignant Melanoma

The Facts about Melanoma:
Most dangerous form of skin cancer
  • -once it grows to a certain thickness, it metastasizes throughout the body
  • -after melanoma has spread to the internal organs there is little that can be done and death follows shortly after
 Originates in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal
layer of the epidermis
 Melanomas often resemble moles
  • -majority of melanomas are black or brown
  • - can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white
 Caused by intense or occasional exposure to UV rays and abnormal growth of melanocytes
Melanoma kills an estimated 8,790 people in the US annually
The American Cancer Society estimates that at present, about 120,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed in a year
In 2010, about 68,130 of these were invasive melanomas, with about 38,870 in males and 29,260 in women.
Warning Signs/Diagnosis:
The Ugly Duckling Method:
  • - the melanoma is an "ugly duckling" compared to the surrounding moles
  • - the patients "normal" moles should resemble each other while the "ugly duckling" may look or feel different
The ABCDEs of Melanoma:
  • - A – Asymmetry- the mole is not symmetrical
  • - B – Border- the border of the mole are uneven, scalloped, or notched
  • - C – Color- the mole has multiple colors
  • - D – Diameter- it is larger than ¼ of an inch
  • - E – Evolving- changes in size, shape, elevation or any new symptoms point to danger
 If any moles look suspicious go to the doctor. The doctor will perform a biopsy and then send the sample to the pathologist who will determine if the cancer is melanoma. If it is melanoma then a surgeon performs a sentinel lymph node biopsy to see if the cancer has spread and then the surgeon will remove the whole tumor. Then an oncologist will provide further treatments.
 The melanoma is then treated with surgery, gene therapy, radiation therapy, laser therapy, chemical peeling, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, or clinical trial treatments
Types of Melanoma:
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Superficial Spreading Melanoma:
  • -most common type, accounting for 70 percent of all cases
  • -most often seen in young people
  • -this melanoma grows along the top layer of the skin for a fairly long time before penetrating more deeply
  • -can be found anywhere on body, most likely occur on the trunk in men, the legs in women, and the upper back in both
Lentigo Maligna:
  • -similar to superficial spreading melanoma
  • -remains close to the skin surface for quite a while
  • -type of in situ melanoma
  • -most often seen in elderly people and most common form of melanoma in Hawaii
  • -can be found on the face, ears, arms and upper trunk
Acral lentiginous melanoma:
  • -spreads superficially before penetrating more deeply
  • -usually appears as a black or brown discoloration under the nails, on the soles of the feet, and on the palm of the hand
  • -advances more quickly than Lentigo and Supeficial Sreading Melanoma
  • -most common form of melanoma in African-Americans and Asians
  • -least common form in Caucasians
Nodular Melanoma:
  • -usually invasive when it is first diagnosed
  • -most commonly found on the trunk, legs, arms, as well as the scalp in men
  • -most aggressive of the melanomas
  • -accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all cases
Reducing sun exposure:
  • -Seek shade
  • -Cover up with clothing
  • -Apply 1 ounce of sunscreen before going outside
 Avoid using a tanning booth or a tanning bed
 Be aware of your moles and look for any atypical moles
  • -Seek your physician every year for a skin exam
 People with lighter skin, hair, and eye color are at an increased risk
 Know your family history:
  • -About one in every 10 patients diagnosed with the disease has a family member with a history of melanoma
  • -Each person with a first-degree relative diagnosed with melanoma has a 50 percent greater chance of developing the disease