Skin Cancer, Malignant Melanoma
A skin cancer that spreads to other areas of the body, primarily the lymph. nodes, liver, lungs and central nervous system. Most melanomas begin in a mole or other pre-existing skin lesion. Excessive exposure to sun is a major factor in causing malignant melanoma. It usually affects the skin of the head, neck, legs or back, but rarely occurs in the eye, mouth, vagina or anus. Melanomas are more likely to occur in adults, but some affect children. The incidence of melanomas has increased since 1970.
Uncontrolled growth of cells that give skin its brownish color (melanocytes). When the cells grow down into deep skin layers, they invade blood vessels and lymph vessels and are spread to other body areas. The following factors increase the likelihood of developing a melanoma:
Signs and symptomsA flat or slightly raised skin lesion that can be black, brown, blue, red, white or a mixture of all colors. Its borders are often irregular and may bleed.
A skin examination by a physician, nurse specialist, or nurse practitioner can uncover suspicious moles. A suspect mole is entirely or partially removed (biopsy) and the tissue examined under a microscope. This is the only way to make a definite diagnosis.
The treatment plan takes into account the type of melanoma, its location, whether it has begun to spread, and the person's age and health. The standard treatments are:
If you are in a high-risk group:
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