Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of melanoma continues to rise. An estimated 76,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed and more than 9,000 lives will be claimed by the disease this year alone. It is one of the most frequently occurring cancers in young adults ages 20 to 30, and it is the main cause of cancer death in women 25 to 30 years old.
Medically known as nevi, moles are benign, non-cancerous skin tumors that develop from melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment melanin that gives skin its tan or brown color and help provide protection from the sun. Melanoma is cancer of the melanocytes. While melanoma most commonly appears brown or black, it can also be pink, tan or even white.
Melanoma is most prevalent on sun-exposed areas of the body such as the back, chest, legs, neck and face; however, it can also form in other areas like the eyes, mouth and vagina. It is often curable in its early stages, but can spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening.
At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, we recognize that no two melanomas are alike. Therefore, our multidisciplinary team of experts works together to tailor treatment plans to the individual needs of each patient.
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Cancer risk factors include exposure to chemicals or other substances, as well as certain behaviors. They also include things people cannot control, like age and family history.
Melanoma risk factors
Most cancers have the same symptoms as other, less serious conditions. Still, it’s important to know the signs.
Early and accurate diagnosis is essential to melanoma care and successful treatment. At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, we use the latest state-of-the-art technologies to diagnose and stage melanoma.
Staging is a way of determining how much disease is in the body and where it has spread (metastasized). This information is important because it helps determine the best type of treatment for you and your outlook for recovery (prognosis).
Common cancer treatments include chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery. Doctors select the treatment for melanoma based on your diagnosis and disease stage.
While not all melanomas can be prevented, there are many ways to reduce your risk.