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What is malignant melanoma?

Audrey Kunin, MD
Dermatology
Malignant melanoma arises from skin growths known as nevi, or "moles" as they are more commonly known. The vast majority of moles are visible on the skin, and brown in color. Rarely, moles may be pink or red, and there are even moles which can be hidden internally, such as at the back of the eye.
 
Fortunately, moles don't change into melanoma overnight. Gradually moles will go through a series of changes (some faster than others) known as dysplasia. The greater the degree of dysplasia, the more likely the mole may turn into melanoma.

By far the deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma begins in the melanocytes, the cells of the skin responsible for producing pigment (melanin). Although this is the rarest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma is on the rise. Because malignant melanoma has a tendency to spread, treatment is essential. If treated in the early stages, melanoma is highly curable.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.