Melanoma is by far the most aggressive of the common skin cancers.
It is responsible for most skin cancer-related deaths.
It is also the most common form of cancer diagnosed in younger people.
Between the ages of 17 and 44 years it is the number one cancer killer.
After the mid 40's, it is taken over by breast and prostate, lung and bowel cancer.
It still remains the number four cancer killer, giving Australia and New Zealand the highest occurrence of melanoma in the world.
Early detection is crucial and can result in complete cure of melanoma.
In Australia, one in fourteen males and one in twenty three females contract melanoma, yet a little less than 1 in 9 melanoma patients die from the disease, so we do cure the majority of melanomas.
When the lesions are found early, the prognosis is favourable.
When the disease is found late, the prognosis is not as good.
For this reason, we recommend annual professional skin checks, along with monthly self skin examinations (see related article)
Melanoma usually presents as a brown or black lesion, though they can also be pink, red, skin coloured or even scar like.
Around 30% of melanomas develop from benign pre-existing moles.
Around 70% of melanomas grow without being pre-existing moles.
It is possible to develop new non cancerous moles, both during childhood and as younger adults. New spots could be malignant and should be assessed.
The signs to look out for that can indicate that a mole may be melanoma vary.
It can be an area of skin that feels different, develops an itch, becomes painful, ulcerates or bleeds.
It can also be a mole that has enlarged, become raised, darkened or even faded.
Any moles that are not symmetrical, have an irregular border, have multiple colours (ranging from black, brown, blue, red, pink or grey) should be examined by a qualified practitioner.
4% of melanomas are amelanotic, meaning that they aren't brown or black.
These may become nodular or raised.
Nodular melanoma form only 8%-10% of melanoma, yet cause 45% of the deaths.
Not being the classic pigmented lesions, they are often ignored and diagnosed late.
Melanoma can be found on any area of the skin, not just skin which sees the sun.
They can also be found on mucous membranes, on the hands and soles of feet, in finger nails and the back of the eye.
If you have any concern, or want to learn how to monitor your skin, please do not wait any longer, contact us today.