Malignant melanoma

From ArticleWorld

Malignant melanoma is a cancerous tumor that occurs in the eye, but primarily in the skin. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is believed at this time to be one of the major causes of malignant melanoma. Most physicians, especially dermatologists, believe the correlation between UV rays and malignant melanoma to be a known fact. Some who work outside seem to have developed a resistance to this cancer, while people who work indoors have a greater chance of contracting melanomas. Melanoma occurs on the legs of women and the backs of men. Sunlamps and tanning beds have also been connected with malignant melanomas. People exposed more often to UV rays, such as children, are also more susceptible to melanoma, as are fair-haired and fair-skinned people.


Symptoms of malignant melanoma are asymmetrical skin lesions, change in color of a mole or other skin lesion, change in size or shape of a skin lesion, irregular borders of a mole, and a raising of the height or elevation of a skin lesion or mole.

Diagnosis and treatment

Only a trained skin specialist (dermatologist) can make the diagnosis of malignant melanoma. Any change in a mole or skin lesion should be checked out immediately. These physicians frequently use a dermatoscopic exam. This exam lights up the mole, showing the physician the underlying tissue of a mole. If diagnosed with a malignant melanoma, the tumor is usually removed using local anesthetic. Sometimes a punch biopsy is used, which means a utensil takes a sample of the tumor to view more closely. Excisional biopsies remove a larger portion of skin to examine. Surrounding skin is also removed. The pathologist determines how much skin needs to be removed to find non-cancerous cells. Some tumors itch, bleed or become ulcerous. Usually this is a sign that the skin cancer is at the later stages of development. Treatment is usually surgery. Early detection and the type of the cancer found determine the rate of success of eliminating skin cancer frequently.