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Melanoma: Introduction

Melanoma is a common cancer of the skin. Melanoma, also known as malignant melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer because it can spread quickly to the rest of the body. The incidence of melanoma is growing faster than any other type of cancer, due to the general increase of sunbathing and the use of tanning beds.

In melanoma skin cells that produce melanin, the pigment that produces skin color, become abnormal and grow uncontrollably. This results in a tumor. Melanoma can develop in a mole or freckle or on unpigmented skin as well.

The risk of developing melanoma is higher in people who have had repeated sunburns or just one bad sunburn in childhood. It is also more likely in people who get a lot of sun exposure or who use tanning beds. Others at risk include those with a family history of melanoma, people with fair skin, and people who have who have multiple moles or have had with other types of skin cancer.

Melanoma is often preventable by protecting children and adults from sunburn and excessive sun exposure. However, melanoma can develop anywhere on the body on the skin, even places that are not exposed to sun and sunburns.

Melanoma can resemble a mole or grow within an existing mole or freckle. Left untreated melanoma can rapidly spread to nearby lymph nodes and then to other areas of the body and result in death. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of melanoma.

Diagnosis of melanoma begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and an examination that focuses on the skin and the look of moles and freckles and any other areas of skin pigmentation. The abnormal or asymmetrical look of a mole increases the suspicion of a diagnosis of melanoma.

Confirming a diagnosis of melanoma includes performing a biopsy of the mole or area of skin suspected of melanoma. This involves removing all of the suspected mole or tumor or a portion of it to examine under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells.

Because a melanoma can be "hiding" within a mole or freckle, seeking medical care and getting a diagnosis of the disease can be delayed. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of melanoma.

Treatment of melanoma varies depending on a variety of factors, such as if the cancer cells have spread to other areas of the body. Treatment may include surgery and sometimes, chemotherapy. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of melanoma. ...more »

Melanoma: Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It is the leading cause of death from skin disease. It involves cells called melanocytes, which produce a skin pigment called melanin. Melanin is responsible for skin and hair color. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Melanoma is available below.

Melanoma: Symptoms

Melanoma can grow within existing moles or freckles. Symptoms of melanoma include having a mole that is growing, or is asymmetrical or has an irregular border. Melanoma that grows in a mole may also cause the mole to have abnormal coloring or more than one color. Theses can include white, blue, red, black and/or brown. A mole that is larger the 1/4 ...more symptoms »

Melanoma: Treatments

The first step in the treatment of melanoma is prevention. The best way to prevent melanoma is to avoid sunburn and sun exposure in both children and adults. Just getting one bad blistering sunburn during childhood raises the risk of developing melanoma.

Minimizing long-term damage to the skin and its cells and the development of melanoma includes avoiding sun exposure during the ...more treatments »

Melanoma: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of melanoma can be delayed or missed because some melanomas may not produce any change in skin color. The abnormal pigmentation that does often occur with the disease may not be easily visible, such as when it occurs on the back. In addition, a melanoma may grow within a previously existing and normal mole and may not be noticed promptly. Because of this, it is important to seek ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Melanoma

Treatments for Melanoma

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Melanoma:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Melanoma?

Melanoma: Related Patient Stories

Melanoma: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Melanoma.

Alternative Treatments for Melanoma

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Melanoma may include:

Types of Melanoma

  • Areas affected by melanoma:
    • Cutaneous melanoma - melanoma affecting the skin and moles.
    • Ocular melanoma - melanoma affecting the eyes.
    • Melanoma of the meninges, melanoma of digestive tract, melanoma of lymph nodes
  • Stage of melanoma:
  • more types...»

Curable Types of Melanoma

Possibly curable types of Melanoma include:

Rare Types of Melanoma:

Rare types of Melanoma include:

Diagnostic Tests for Melanoma

Test for Melanoma in your own home

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Melanoma: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Melanoma:

Causes of Melanoma

  • Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type of melanoma. It is usually flat and irregular in shape and color, with varying shades of black and brown. It may occur at any age or body site, and is most common in Caucasians
  • Nodular melanoma usually starts as a raised area that is dark blackish-blue or bluish-red, although some are without color
  • Lentigo maligna melanoma usually occurs in the elderly. It is most common in sun-damaged skin on the face, neck, and arms. The abnormal skin areas are usually large, flat, and tan with intermixed areas of brown
  • Acral lentiginous melanoma is the least common form of melanoma. It usually occurs on the palms, soles, or under the nails and is more common in African Americans
  • more causes...»

More information about causes of Melanoma:

Disease Topics Related To Melanoma

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Melanoma:

Melanoma: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Melanoma

Spitz nevi misdiagnosed as dangerous melanoma skin cancer: One possible misdiagnosis to consider in lieu of melanoma is spitz nevi. See melanoma and spitz more »

Psoriasis often undiagnosed cause of skin symptoms in children: Children who suffer from the skin disorder called psoriasis can often go undiagnosed. The main more »

Melanoma: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Melanoma

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Melanoma:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Melanoma, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Melanoma: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Melanoma

Melanoma: Animations

Prognosis for Melanoma

Prognosis for Melanoma: If caught early, melanoma can be cured. The risk of the cancer coming back increases with the depth of the tumor -- deeper tumors are more likely to come back. If the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, there is a greater chance that the melanoma will come back.

Research about Melanoma

Visit our research pages for current research about Melanoma treatments.

Clinical Trials for Melanoma

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Melanoma include:

Prevention of Melanoma

Prevention information for Melanoma has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Melanoma.

Statistics for Melanoma

Melanoma: Broader Related Topics

Melanoma Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Melanoma, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Definitions of Melanoma:

A malignant, usually aggressive tumor composed of atypical, neoplastic melanocytes that contain melanin. Most often, melanomas arise in the skin (cutaneous melanomas) and include the following histologic subtypes: superficial spreading melanoma, nodular melanoma, acral lentiginous melanoma, and lentigo maligna melanoma. Cutaneous melanomas may arise from acquired or congenital melanocytic or dysplastic nevi. Melanomas may also arise in other anatomic sites including the gastrointestinal system, eye, urinary tract, and reproductive system. Melanomas frequently metastasize to lymph nodes, liver, lungs, and brain. -- 2004 - (Source - Diseases Database)

Any of several malignant neoplasms (usually of the skin) consisting of melanocytes - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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