What is melanoma?

Melanoma is considered the most dangerous form of skin cancer as it typically will spread to other areas of the body, including organs, if left untreated.

Non-melanoma skin cancers, such as Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma, are generally considered less dangerous as they are less likely to spread and can usually be treated with a simple surgery. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, including areas not exposed to the sun, like inside the mouth or the palms of the hands. Men are more likely to get melanomas on their back while women are more likely to experience them on their legs.

Melanoma begins in melanocyte cells. It occurs when those cells behave abnormally, growing excessively and taking over surrounding tissues. Melanomas can develop from existing moles or skin growths, but, more commonly, they will start as a new growth.

> For more on common forms of skin cancer, view our page on Skin Cancer.

Most cases of melanoma are likely caused by radiation from sunlight; some studies even put incidences of skin cancer caused by sun exposure at around 95%.

Early melanoma symptoms: changing or appearing moles, bleeding and itching.

Melanoma is a serious disease with large risks for your health, but if caught early, it can usually be treated with relatively minimal intervention. However, once the cancer has metastasized and spread to other areas of the body, it becomes more difficult to treat. That’s why catching it early is so important.

A potentially cancerous mole will usually display certain symptoms. Common examples: A mole appeared recently (if you are an adult), a mole is changing in size, getting bigger than 6mm in diameter. The mole has a border or a crust that won’t go away. The mole sometimes bleeds or is itchy, or it includes different colors and shades.

Read the full article here: Early melanoma symptoms

Essentials on Melanoma

While melanoma can take many different variations, staying alert to any changes in your skin is the best way to catch the cancer early. Perform head to toe skin checks monthly to spot any new or evolving moles or spots. We have collected essential topics on melanoma that will increase your knowledge and helps you to identify certain risks.

Scalp melanoma is one of these harder-to-detect forms of the cancer and it is one of the deadliest forms at that. Part of the reason for its deadly nature, many dermatologists speculate, is because it often goes unnoticed for so long, giving it a chance to spread to other areas of the body.

More: Symptoms of melanoma on the scalp

If you have any moles that have a different appearance to the rest of the moles on your body, then you must keep an eye on them. These moles are called dysplastic moles and can evolve into melanomas. These moles tend to be larger than common moles, have irregular edges and are an uneven colour.

More: Melanoma symptoms: the shape of a mole

These images give you an idea of the types of things you may look for in your own moles and represent moles that may not on first inspection appear harmful, but do require investigation. Mostly these moles have changed shape, size or colour and have therefore been noticed as unusual or suspect.

More: Early melanoma pictures

Knowing the symptoms of melanoma can be the key to catching it early and saving your life. Melanoma typically begins as a new mole or skin growth, so its symptoms are usually visible to the eye and physical in nature.

More: Physical symptoms of melanoma.