2015-2016 Health Project By Cohl Schusler

What is Melanoma?

Malignant Melanoma is a skin cancer that arises in the pigment producing cells of the epidermis (skin), and spreads to other parts of the body.
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What human body systems are affected by melanoma?

Initially, melanoma affects the integumentary system (skin); that includes the immune system in your skin as well. If the melanoma were to spread to other parts of the body, it could end up affecting any body system. It could range from the nervous system and developing a brain tumor to your digestive system and developing stomach cancer.

How do those body systems work with and without melanoma?

The skin is constantly working to keep bacteria, germs, and harmful entities out of the body. The immune system has a similar job, to fight and keep harmful substances out of the body. The immune system also prevents harmful tumors and lesions from growing and developing. However with melanoma, dermatologists theorize that the immune system in the skin breaks down, and the body does not recognize that there is a melanoma on the skin, therefore allowing it to develop.

Who is affected by melanoma?

Melanoma is not specific to any age, gender, or race. Anybody can develop melanoma of the skin. It's one of the most common cancers in Americans from ages 25 to 29.
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How does melanoma develop?

Melanoma, like any skin cancer, is mainly caused by sun exposure. The UV rays that radiate from the sun change the DNA and cause a melanoma to start to develop. It is usually a strangely colored mole or spot that has an asymmetrical shape and a ragged border. Melanoma can also be caused by a family history of melanoma. If an immediate relative, for example a father or a mother, was diagnosed with melanoma, their offspring would have a greater chance of developing a melanoma.

How is melanoma diagnosed?

When someone presents themselves with an abnormal mole, dermatologists usually use the ABCDE method. The condition and appearance of the mole is evaluated using this method. "A" stands for the asymmetrical shape of the mole or spot, "B" stands for the border of the spot, "C" stands for the color of the spot, "D" stands for the diameter of the spot, and "E" stands for the rate at which the mole evolves. If the mole has a diameter wider than that of a pencil eraser, abnormal coloring, ragged borders, asymmetrical shape, and rapid evolution and development, then it is most likely a melanoma. The dermatologist will then perform a biopsy (remove) the spot and confirm the diagnosis through the use of a microscope.
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What are the signs and symptoms of melanoma?

There are many symptoms and signs of malignant melanoma. The ABCDE method of diagnosis includes some of the symptoms of melanoma. Asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolution. Other symptoms of melanoma include itchiness, bleeding, and pain of the mole or spot.

What is the treatment for melanoma?

If caught in it's early stage, melanoma is 95% curable. After a dermatologist confirms the diagnosis of melanoma, he goes back and makes a wider excision of the melanoma site. The size and width of the excision depends on how deep the melanoma is. The depth of the lesion is usually confirmed by how thick or thin the melanoma is. If it is a thick melanoma, the dermatologist usually cuts about 3 to 5 centimeters around the melanoma site in order to remove the entire lesion and it's depth. If it is a thin and small melanoma, the excision would be smaller and less deep. When melanoma is past the in situ stage, many patients have to submit to chemotherapy.

What is the prognosis for melanoma?

The prognosis for melanoma depends on many things. If it was treated and caught at an early stage (as "in situ" which means the place of origin), the prognosis is very good. If the melanoma has progressed passed the place of origin, the prognosis can vary. Since 10 to 20 percent of melanoma cases are fatal, these represent melanomas that have spread throughout the body making the prognosis poor.
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I don't know anyone with this condition, I was simply interested in researching melanoma. I did however find someone famous with this condition, John McCain. He was diagnosed with malignant melanoma and as far as I know he is still battling it.

Works Cited

Cowley, Geoffrey, and Anne Underwood. "The Skin-Cancer Scare." Newsweek 137.5 (2001): 58. Middle Search Plus. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.

Kalb, C., Springen, K., Figueroa, A., Ordonez, F., Dickey, B., Pierce, E., & Roberts, M. (2001). OVEREXPOSED. (cover story).Newsweek, 138(8), 34.

Kalish, N. (2005). The ABCs of skin cancer. Prevention, 57(5), 51.

Weller, R. (2015). The prodigal sun. New Scientist, 226(3025), 26.

Vaccine offers hope for deadly melanoma. (1996). USA Today Magazine, 124(2609), 9.


Melanoma. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2016, from

January 18th 2016, 8:00am., New London Hospital, New London,NH. “Interview with Doctor Jose Peraza.”

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"What Are the Key Statistics about Melanoma Skin Cancer?" What Are the Key Statistics about Melanoma Skin Cancer? Web. 19 Jan. 2016.

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"Types of Skin Cancer." Types of Skin Cancer. American Academy of Dermatology 26 Jan. 2016.