Question

Melanoma

How does melanoma affect the body?

A Answers (2)

  • Melanoma is caused by the overproduction of certain skin cells called melanocytes. This cell overgrowth usually starts on an existing mole on the skin or as a new skin growth. Generally, these growths are found in areas of skin that are exposed to sunlight, although they may be found in other parts of the body, including internal mucous membranes like those found in the esophagus and urinary tract. If left untreated, melanoma can spread rapidly to other parts of the body, so it is considered one of the more serious types of skin cancer.

  • AHealthwise answered

    Melanoma develops when normal pigment-producing skin cells called melanocytes become abnormal, grow uncontrollably and invade surrounding tissues. Usually only one melanoma develops at a time. Melanomas can begin in an existing mole or other skin growth, but most start in unmarked skin. 

    When melanoma is found early, it can often be cured by surgery to remove it. But after melanoma spreads, it is harder to cure. 

    Experts talk about prognosis in terms of "5-year survival rates." The 5-year survival rate means the percentage of people who are still alive 5 years or longer after their cancer was discovered. Remember that these are only averages. Everyone's case is different, and these numbers don't necessarily show what will happen to you. The estimated 5-year survival rate for melanoma is: 2 

    • 98% if cancer is found early and treated before it has spread. 
    • 62% if the cancer has spread to close-by tissue.
    • 15% if the cancer has spread farther away, such as to the liver, brain or bones.

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