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What is melanoma?

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a cancerous lesion that develops in the melanocytes (mature melanin-forming cells in the skin). Medical studies showed that excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays of sunlight or tanning devices (especially in white people) are the main causes of melanoma. Also people with many moles or positive family history of melanoma as well as immunocompromised patients are at greater risk to develop melanoma.

The early warning signs of melanoma are the change of shape, color or size of pre-existing mole; also initial lesion could be in the form of appearance of new skin lump. After that, the affected mole or lump undergo itching and then ulceration and bleeding.

The mentioned clinical picture and local examination aren't dependable enough for diagnosis; lesion biopsy is necessary for diagnosis and staging. According to biopsy findings, staging of melanoma is classified as follow:

  • Stage 0: melanoma in situ (lesion in the superficial layer of skin)
  • Stages 1&2: invasive melanoma (lesion extends to the deep layers of skin).
  • Stage 3: regional metastasis (lesion extends to regional lymph nodes and nearby tissues).
  • Stage 4: distant metastasis (lesion extends via blood or lymph to many body organs such as lung and liver).

Management of melanoma depends mainly on surgical excision of the lesion with/without radiotherapy or chemotherapy (according to staging results).

For prevention of melanoma, you should do the following:

  • Avoiding exposure to direct sunlight for long duration.
  • Using sunscreen.
  • Using tanning devices are completely prohibited.
  • If you suspect in change of color, size or shape of nay mole you have; you should have specialized medical consultation.


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