Melanoma Basics

Melanoma - what is it?

Melanoma skin scheme



Melanoma is a cancer of the skin. It develops in cells that give the skin its color (melanocytes). Melanoma can develp anywhere on your body, but it is most common where skin is exposed to the sun. In 2017, appoximately 87,000 people were diagnosed with Melanoma in the US. This makes Melanoma the 5th most common cancer diagnosis among US adults. 


Symptoms of Melanoma

Use this 'ABCDE' guide to check for possible symptoms of Melanoma:

A: Moles with asymmetrical and irregular shapes 
B: Moles with irregular borders: Normal moles tend to have sharp and well defined edges
C: Moles whose color has changed
D: Moles whose size (diameter) has changed
E: Moles with evolving characteristics over time: changes in size, color, itchiness, or bleeding 


Risk Factors for Developing Melanoma


 It is impossible to predict whether or not you will develop Melanoma; or if you already had Melanoma, whether or not you will have a recurrence of Melanoma. There are many factors that play a role for developing Melanoma. It is unknown, how exactly these factors interact with each other. However, there are some well known risk factors:

- having had a Melanoma diagnosis before,
- exposure to ultraviolett (UV) light from the sun or from tanning lights,
- fair skin, light hair,
- a personal history of sunburns,
- a family history of Melanoma,
- living closer to the equator,
- having many freckles and moles.

These remain risk factors after you have had a Melanoma diagnosis. The more of these risk criteria you meet, the more likely you are to be vulnerable for a second diagnosis of Melanoma.