Skin Cancer

Detecting And Treating Melanoma

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Team MoleMap Creator
Posted 03/10/13

There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The latter, melanoma, is the most serious of these cancers. It can appear very suddenly and grow at an aggressive rate.

Due to this capacity for rapid growth, it is very important to detect melanoma in its earliest stages. If cancer patients do manage to catch this skin cancer at an early stage, they have a high rate of survival.


Melanoma bears its name due to the characteristically dark appearance of the tumors. Mela is a Greek term for the English word dark. Melanoma tumors usually lie on the skin’s surface.

One reason that this cancer manages to go unnoticed for long periods is its tumor’s physically similar appearance to moles or freckles. When people fail to distinguish between normal skin lesions and melanoma, the cancer may have time to grow under the skin and begin a much more dangerous stage of growth.


There are four characteristics of melanoma tumors that distinguish them from moles or freckles. They are usually asymmetric, with irregular borders that blur into the surrounding skin. While they are dark in nature, this coloring is uneven. Finally, a melanoma will increase in size.

However, not all melanoma exhibit these physical traits. This cancer can appear much like a mole. If you see that you have a mole that is different in appearance than the others on your body, or if it itches and bleeds, you should seek a doctor’s opinion.

These tumors are usually caused by too much exposure to sunlight, though genetics do seem to play a role. This is why people are encouraged to wear sunblock when they are going to spend long periods in the sun. Avoiding long periods of exposure to the sun’s rays is the easiest way to prevent this skin cancer.

The standard medical response to melanoma detection is to excise the tumor surgically. This can be a successful form of treatment as long as the cancer has not spread beneath the skin. When this happens, other forms of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, may be necessary.