What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer and is considered to be most danger form of disease. It is less diagnosed then other types of skin cancer.

Melanoma develops in the cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that are responsible for creating skin pigmentation or melanin. Melanin is responsible for giving our skin its natural hue.

As the skin is exposed to UV rats of the sun more melanin is produced in order to prevent burning of the skin. The result is damage to the DNA in skin cells.

People with many moles are at higher risk of getting infected with melanoma. More often moles are benign there are certain category that carry a higher risk such as dysplastic nevi.

What are the typical features of melanoma?

The main features of melanoma can be as follows: a pigmented lesion with various color shades, an irregular raised surface, an irregular border with notching and ulceration of the surface of the skin.


People who have the highest risk of developing melanoma have many moles. It can be contagious i.e. can spread from one person to another. People who have fair skin that burns and freckles easily are also at high-risk of developing melanoma.

Types of Melanoma

There are four major types of melanoma, which occur in skin. Listed as follows:

Superficial spreading melanoma – The most common type of melanoma. Mostly occur in middle-aged people. The most common place in women is on the legs, while in men it usually occurs on the truck. They tend to spread out across the surface of skin called as radical phase. If it is removed at this stage then there’s a very high chance of cure. If not removed then it will start grow down deeper into the layers of the skin.

Nodular melanoma – The most common place where it tends to occur is often on the chest or back. This type of melanoma is often raised above the rest of skin surface and feels like a bump.

Lentigo maligna melanoma – More often found on face, usually in older people. It grows slowly and may take several years to develop.

Acral melanoma – Is usually found on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or around the toenails.

Other types of melanoma of skin includes desmoplastic melanoma and amelanotic melanoma.

What causes malignant melanoma?

The ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage the skin and cause malignant melanoma.

How does the doctor make the diagnosis?

The possible diagnose for melanoma includes are as follows:

Excision biopsy – Mole is removed, using a anaesthetic and the wound is closed using stitches. The mole is examined under microscope by the doctor to see if any melanoma cells are present.

The surgeon will remove the margin of normal-looking tissue all around the area where the melanoma was. This is necessary to make sure that no melanoma cells have been left behind. Surgery is usually done under anaesthetic in the day surgery unit.

Can melanoma be treated?

Treatment for melanoma depends on the type of cancer, the location, stage and the human factor such as age, sex and family history of diseases. The most commonly used treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery requires removal of part of the skin. Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer medications given intravenously or taken by mouth.

Can melanoma be prevented?

The melanoma can be prevented with limited exposure to the Ultra violet radiation.

Melanoma Statistics

  • In the United States, about 51,400 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year.
  • In the United States, about 7,800 people die from melanoma each year.
  • Since 1973, the incidence rate of melanoma has increased about 4% per year.