Monday, July 19, 2010
Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes which are found predominantly in skin but also in the bowel and the eye (see uveal melanoma). It is one of the less common types of skin cancer but causes the majority of skin cancer related deaths. Malignant melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer. It is due to uncontrolled growth of pigment cells, called melanocytes.Despite many years of intensive laboratory and clinical research, the sole effective cure is surgical resection of the primary tumor before it achieves a Breslow thickness greater than 1 mm.
Around 160,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed nationally each year, and it is more frequent in males and Caucasians. It is more common in Caucasian populations living in sunny climates than in other groups. According to a WHO report about 48,000 melanoma related deaths occur worldwide per year.
Malignant melanoma accounts for 75 % of all deaths associated with skin cancer.
The treatment includes surgical removal of the tumor, adjuvant treatment, chemo- and immunotherapy, or radiation therapy.
To detect melanomas (and increase survival rates), it is recommended to learn what they look like (see “ABCD” mnemonic below), to be aware of moles and check for changes (shape, size, color, itching or bleeding) and to show any suspicious moles to a doctor with an interest and skills in skin malignancy.
A popular method for remembering the signs and symptoms of melanoma is the mnemonic “ABCDE”:
* Asymmetrical skin lesion.
* Border of the lesion is irregular.
* Color: melanomas usually have multiple colors.
* Diameter: moles greater than 6 mm are more likely to be melanomas than smaller moles.
* Enlarging: Enlarging or evolving