Malignant Melanoma

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer

Malignant Melanoma

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Melanoma results from the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells, called melanocytes. Melanomas might appear on the skin suddenly without warning, but they also can develop within an existing mole.

The overall incidence of melanoma continues to rise and has now become the most common form of cancer in young adults 25 to 29 years of age and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15 to 20 years of age.

Advanced melanoma spreads to lymph nodes and internal organs and can be fatal. In fact, one American dies from melanoma every hour in the United States, and the incidence of melanoma continues to rise each year.  Fortunately, if melanoma is detected and treated before it reaches the lymph nodes, melanoma has a 99 percent five-year survival rate.

Risk factors for developing a melanoma include a family history of melanoma or atypical nevi, having had blistering sunburns as a child or teenager, having a number of atypical nevi, having skin that always sunburns, freckles, or does not tan easily, having blonde or red hair naturally, being of Celtic origin, and having blue/green eye color.

Environmental factors are also important, such as living in a high altitude or sunny climate, having excessive sun exposure through your recreational activities or occupation, and tanning bed or light box usage.