What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer.Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It begins in skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells that make melanin. When people are exposed to harmful ultraviolet (UV) light such as the sun or tanning booths, the melanocytes make more melanin and cause the skin to tan. If the skin receives too much ultraviolet light, the melanocytes may begin to grow abnormally and become cancerous.
How and where does melanoma appear?The first sign of melanoma is often a change in the size, shape, or color of a mole. But melanoma can also appear anywhere on the skin as a new mole.
- In men, melanoma most often shows up:
- on the upper body, between the shoulders and hip
- on the head and neck
- In women, melanoma often shows up:
- on the lower legs
With early diagnosis and treatment, the chances of recovery are very good.The chance of getting melanoma increases as you get older, but people of any age can get melanoma. In fact, melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults (i.e. Joe Roth). Each year, more than 50,000 people in the U.S. learn that they have melanoma.
If melanoma is found and treated in its early stages, the chances of recovery are very good (nearly 99%). If it is not found early, melanoma can grow deeper into the skin and spread to other parts of the body. Once melanoma has spread to other parts of the body beyond the skin, it is difficult to treat.