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:

  • Asymmetry - the shape of a melanoma is often uneven and asymmetrical, unlike a mole which is usually round and even.
  • Border - the border or edges of a melanoma are often ragged, notched or blurred. A mole has a smooth well-defined edge.
  • Colour - the colour (pigmentation) of a melanoma is often not uniform. So there may be 2-3 shades of brown or black. A mole usually has one uniform colour.
  • Diameter - the size of a melanoma is usually larger than a normal mole, and it continues to grow.

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!

Melanoma

'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.

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'Typical appearnce of Melanoma'

 

Further Information

Click here for information on Basel Cell Carcinoma

Click here for information on Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Click here for information on Pre Cancerous Conditions

Surgery fact sheets

Click here for information sheet on Excision of Lesion

Click here for information on Split Skin Grafts (SSG)

Click here for information on Full Thickness Skin Grafts (FTSG)

Click here for information on Local Flap Reconstruction

Please contact Mr Banwell's office on 01342 330302 or email help@skinhealth.org.uk for further information.

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