What Is Melanoma?

Approximately one-in-five Americans will experience skin cancer by the age of 70. 

Because skin cancer is such a prevalent and serious issue, it is important to conduct self-exams, see your dermatologist for annual skin checks, and be aware of the different types of skin cancer – which include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

While basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, melanoma is the deadliest.

Continue reading for answers to some of the most frequently-asked questions about melanoma, including: What is melanoma? What are the signs and symptoms of melanoma? Where can melanoma occur on the body?

What Is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that originates in melanocytes.

Melanocytes are pigment-producing cells that can become damaged and cancerous when exposed to UV light. 

As such, melanoma commonly presents on sun-exposed areas like the trunk, arms, legs, head, and face. That being said, it can also occur on more concealed parts of the body like the palms and soles of feet. 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma?

If you are wondering – What is melanoma? – you may also be curious about the signs and symptoms of this type of skin cancer.

The ABCDE system is used to evaluate a new or suspicious lesion for melanoma.

A – Look for asymmetry in the growth and if one side appears different than the other.

B – Look for irregular borders that are uneven or notched.

C – Look for moles that are not uniform in color. These growths may have multiple shades of black, brown, tan, red, or blue.

D – Look out for any lesions that are larger than ¼ inch in diameter. This is roughly the same size as a pencil eraser.

E – Look for moles that are evolving in terms of their shape, size, and color.

If you spot any signs or symptoms of melanoma during a monthly self-check, be sure to schedule an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist right away.

Learn More About Melanoma Detection and Treatment

For additional information about melanoma signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment, please call our office today to schedule a comprehensive consultation with board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon Dr. Johnathan L. Chappell.