Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It affects the pigment-producing cells in the skin (melanocytes) and can appear as a new or changing mole.
The cause is not fully understood although repeated exposure to strong sunlight is a major contributing factor. If treated in the earliest stage of development then complete cure is likely.
It is important to check your skin and moles regularly (every 2 to 3 months) and see your doctor if you notice a change.
The 3 major signs of malignant melanoma are:
- Change in size
- Change in shape
- Change in colour (darker or lighter)
Other signs are:
- Inflammation around a mole
- Crusting or scabbing of a mole
- A new growth or sore that won’t heal
How is melanoma treated?
All suspected melanomas of the skin are treated with surgery which is usually performed under local anaesthetic on an outpatient basis. Following surgery the lesion removed is examined by pathologists. If malignant melanoma is present then further surgery may be needed. This may be under local anaesthetic again or require a general anaesthetic.
Patients who have had melanoma are offered regular (every 3 to 4 months) check ups to detect any recurrence of malignant melanoma and advise on treatment.