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It’s the cancer formed by melanocytes (it is also called skin melanoma or malignant melanoma)

Incidence- risk factors

UVA sunlight exposure is the most common risk factor. Fair phenotype and generally fairly skinned people are more likely to develop melanoma.

People with dysplastic moles, serious sunburn in childhood and family history with melanoma have an increased risk. People living in areas that are mostly affected by ozone hole phenomenon are also at increased risk for developing melanoma.


In most cases, the only indication for melanoma growth is a change in size, color or shape of a pre-existing mole.

A mole is normally a brown, dark brown or black spot on the skin. It might be flat or not with a round or oval shape. Usually moles measure from 2-5mm. Most humans have at least 10-30 moles over their skin and the majority of those are totally harmless. Skin mapping is necessary to be done. Any changes in color, increase in diameter, bleeding, itching should prompt you to visit a dermatologist. Melanoma should also appear as an entirely new mole.

In men, melanoma usually appears over the head, neck and body. In women, melanoma commonly appears over the anus and tibia. It might also appear in the eyebolb.


Definite diagnosis is only set with biopsy. Removing the whole mole is usually recommended. It is very important both the depth invasion (which is measured in Clark or Breslow scale) as well as the sentinel lymph node to be examined. Early diagnosis is crucial for prevention of metastatic disease.


Most patients undergo surgical treatment. The tumors’ local invasion determines the risk of distant metastases or recurrences. Lymph node invasion increases the recurrence risk and in those cases prophylactic immunotherapy is recommended.

Chemotherapy in melanoma is not particularly efficacious compared to other cancer types, however, there has been intensive clinical research especially in immunotherapy and targeted treatment.

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Filed In: Melanoma