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Melanoma is the most serious kind of skin cancer. Melanin is created by cells called melanocytes and gives your skin its particular color. It is in these cells that the condition develops, hence its name. While most common on the skin, melanoma can occur in the eyes or in the nose or throat, though the latter scenarios are quite rare.
Visible melanomas that appear on the skin are the easiest to spot. Those with darker skin may experience higher rates of hidden melanomas in the nails or under the feet.
Melanoma can involve existing moles but it can also appear on skin with no moles, as well.
The skin cells in our bodies typically develop in an orderly fashion. Newer cells push older cells towards the surface of the skin, where they are shed. Cells that have developed DNA damage, however, grow in a far less orderly fashion forming cancerous masses. A combination of environmental and genetic triggers likely cause melanoma. Risk factors for the disease include fair skin, excess exposure to UV light, having many moles or a history of melanoma and a weakened immune system.
Treatment can vary, depending on what stage the melanoma is in. Early-stage melanomas are often treated with surgery to remove the growth. When melanomas are very thin, they can be removed during biopsy.
If melanoma has spread to other areas of the body, treatment can include:
Any treatment for melanoma will be done in careful consultation with your doctor and address the particular needs of your case.
All cases of melanoma are not the same, therefore we recommend seeing a specialist to help determine which treatment option is the best for you.