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What is melanoma?

Characteristics of melanomas include:

  • Melanomas are black, irregular, asymmetric, growing, and have a rough border. They are especially common on women’s legs—it’s the second most common cancer in women ages twenty to twenty-nine. Risk rises if a parent or sibling has had it.
  • Among African-Americans and some other ethnic groups, most likely to appear in non-sun-exposed areas: on the palms, soles of the feet, mucous membranes, and under fingernails and toenails. (Bob Marley died of melanoma that started on the sole of his foot and spread to his brain.) Melanomas can also form in the eye and the gut.
  • If it’s detected and treated early, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent. If it’s allowed to spread to other places in the body, the survival rate decreases rapidly.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

 

Melanoma is the least common but most aggressive of the three most common types of skin cancer. Melanoma originates in the skin's melanocytes—the cells that produce pigment, or melanin. Melanoma typically appears in or around a mole, but it may also develop on clear skin. It may be a flat, brown, black or tan spot or a raised bump. Unlike a noncancerous mole, melanoma often is irregularly shaped.

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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.