Skin Cancer: Melanoma

Diamond Moss 4/8

Definition of the Cancer & what part of the body does it mostly affect

Melanoma is a tumor of melanin-forming cells typically a malignant tumor associated with skin cancer

The skin is the largest organ in the body and it's generally affected by melanoma

There are 3 layers of skin

  • Epidermis
  • Dermis
  • Subcutis

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Signs & Symptoms

Unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, markings, or change in the way an area of the skin looks/feels

Normal Moles- a normal mole is an evenly colored brown, tan, or black spot on the skin. It can be raised/flat, round/oval.

ABCDE are guides to usual signs of melanoma

A-asymmetry: half of the mole/birthmark doesn't match the other

B-border: edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred

C-color: the color isn't the same all over and may include shades of brown/black or sometimes with patches of pink, red, blue, or white

D-diameter: spot is larger than 6 millimeters across

E-evolving: mole changes in size, shape, and color

Other Warning Signs

  • A sore that doesn't heal
  • Spread of pigment from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
  • Redness or a new swelling beyond the border
  • Change in sensation: Itchiness, tenderness, or pain
  • Change in the surface of a mole: scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a bump/nodule

Possible Causes of the Cancer and Prevention

Ultraviolet Rays -most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to the sun's UV rays

  • UV-A: Very constant throughout the years and contribute to aging and wrinkling of the skin
  • UV-B: Stronger than UV-A, more intense in the summer months and are the most common cause of sunburn
Tanning Beds: emits UV rays to speed up skin tanning process

  • Exposure to tanning beds before age 30 increases a person's risk of developing melanoma
  • Younger people who regularly use tanning beds are eight times more likely to develop melanoma
Inheritance: A person with a heredity risk of melanoma has a greatly increased risk of developing melanoma during their lifetime


  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • Reapply sunscreen often
  • Cover your whole body
  • Choose sunscreen labeled "broad spectrum"
  • Avoid tanning salons
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses that provides 100% UV protection
  • Seek shade or avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10am-4pm
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand

Diagnosis & Treatment

Skin Exam: A doctor or nurse checks the skin for moles, birthmarks, or other pigmented areas that look abnormal in color, size, shape, or texture

Biopsy: A procedure to remove the abnormal tissue and a small amount of normal tissue

  • A pathologist looks at the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells
Treatment: based on the stage of the cancer and other factors the treatment may include

  • Surgery
  • Immuno-therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

Most Likely to Affect

  • Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers
  • Melanoma will account for more than 73,000 cases of skin cancer in 2015
  • It accounts for 1% of skin cancer cases but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths
  • Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in Whites than African Americans


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