Although melanoma accounts for only 4% of skin cancers, it is responsible for more than 80% of all skin cancer deaths. In fact, one person dies of melanoma every hour in this country. Melanoma is increasing at a faster rate than any other cancer in the United States. When detected early, however, melanoma is curable.

There are early warning signs of melanoma:

                        Asymmetry – Half the mole doesn’t match the other.

Border – Normal moles are round or oval. The borders of a melanoma may be irregular, notched or blurred.

Color – Common moles are normally one color throughout. Melanomas are often not uniform in color and can have shades of brown and black, and possibly red, white, or blue.

D – Healthy moles are generally less than ¼ inch or 6mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser). Melanomas are usually larger.

Elevation – Change from a flat mole or blemish to a raised one.

Feeling - Change, such as burning, itching, or tenderness.

The treatment of melanoma is primarily surgical. Initially all or part of the lesion is removed to obtain a diagnosis. If melanoma is diagnosed, a wide excision of the lesion and surrounding skin is required. Chemotherapy may be needed as well.

The prognosis with melanoma is dependant on the depth of the tumor from the skin surface. Like basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma is related to sun exposure. The use of sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater on all exposed skin is important to decrease the risk of skin cancer in the future.

Melanoma Photo Sample

copyright 2012