Melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer, but it is the most serious. It is the one most likely to spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma becomes more common with increasing age, but still occurs in younger people. Melanoma is the second most common cancer in people aged 15-39. A typical melanoma starts as a small dark patch on the skin (similar to a mole). It can develop from a normal part of skin, or from an existing mole. A melanoma is often different to a mole in one or more of the following ways (summed up as ABCD) - that is:
However, some melanomas are not dark, and some melanomas are not typical in how they look. As a melanoma grows in the skin it may itch, bleed, crust or ulcerate.
Early recognition and diagnosis is the key!
'mole with irregular edges, irregular colour and asymmetry'
For optimum outcomes, melanomas need to be spotted early and treated quickly. Initially the mole will need to be removed for the diagnosis. If this comes back as positive then a so-called wider-excision will need to take place. This leaves a bigger scar but in certain areas, eg. the leg and scalp, a skin graft or local flap reconstruction may be required.
'Typical appearnce of Melanoma'
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