Most Dangerous Form of Skin Cancer

Caused By

Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease.

How It Happens

The cancer growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers genetic defects that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form tumors.

What It Looks Like

Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white.


If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal.


  • Stage 1 melanoma is treated by wide excision (surgery to remove the melanoma as well as a margin of normal skin around it). The amount of normal skin removed depends on the thickness of the melanoma.


  • Wide excision is the standard treatment for stage 2 melanoma. If the melanoma is between 1 mm and 2 mm thick, a margin of 1 to 2 cm of normal skin will be removed as well. If the melanoma is thicker than 2 mm, about 2 cm of normal skin will be removed from around the tumor site.


  • These cancers have already reached the lymph nodes when the melanoma is first diagnosed. Surgical treatment for stage 3 melanoma usually requires lymph node dissection, along with wide excision of the primary tumor as in stage 2. Adjuvant therapy with interferon may help some patients with stage 3 melanomas fight off recurrence longer.


  • This stage is very hard to cure, as it hase already spread to distant lymph nodes or other areas of the body. Skin tumors or spread to the lymph nodes causing symptoms can often be removed by surgery. Metastases in internal organs are sometimes removed, depending on how many there are, where they are located, and how likely they are to cause symptoms.

Works Cited

"Treatment of Melanoma Skin Cancer by Stage." Treatment of Melanoma Skin Cancer by Stage. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013. <>.

"Skin Cancer Foundation." Melanoma. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013. <>.

By: Allica Bacon