A tumor of melanin-forming cells, typically a malignant tumor associated with skin cancer
What is Melanoma Cancer
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in melanocytes, cells in the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) that make melanin—the pigment in skin. Besides giving skin its hue, melanin also protects other layers of the skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and while melanoma is less common than other types of skin cancer (such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas), it is more dangerous because it runs a higher risk of spreading to other parts of the body if left undetected and untreated.
Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, but there are a few common sites—such as the neck and face—where the sun has the most contact. In men, the chest and back are common sites. In women, melanoma often forms on the lower legs. Although it is primarily considered a skin cancer, melanoma can also form in the eyes, mouth, and vagina, but these are rarer than skin melanoma.
The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be more than 68,000 new cases of melanoma and nearly 8,800 melanoma-related deaths by the end of 2010.
Symptoms of Melanoma Cancer
Melanoma is one cancer where self-detection is possible. Once a month, look for changes in moles or freckles as well as sores that do not heal (use a mirror for hard-to-see parts of the body). Check moles for the “ABCD” of melanoma:
One or more of the above features may be present in melanoma.
Risk Factors Melanoma Cancer
Risk factors for melanoma include: