Skin Cancer Malignant Melanoma | Dermatology Education Skin Cancer Malignant Melanoma Video
November 27, 2021

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Skin Cancer Malignant Melanoma


Melanoma is a common malignancy of melanocytes, most often arising in the skin. It is potentially curable with early detection and treatment. Late diagnosis of melanoma carries a poor prognosis. The most common early signs include an increase in size, change in color or shape of the lesion. The most common early symptom is itching, but most are asymptomatic. Later symptoms include tenderness, bleeding, and ulceration. Pigmented lesions may change slowly over months to years or abruptly change.


Melanoma represents 4% of all cancers in men and 3% of all cancers in women. Melanoma is the most common malignancy in women age 25-29 and second only to breast cancer in women aged 30-35. Incidence of melanoma continues to rise at a faster rate than that of any other human cancer, and the increase in its mortality is second only to that of lung cancer. There are an estimated 92, 000 new cases and an estimated 7600 deaths from melanoma in the United States each year. The projected lifetime risk of melanoma for Americans born in the year 2000 is 1 in 75.

Risk factors

Factors that increase ones risk of developing melanoma include: Fair skin (skin types I and II) Presence of atypical nevi in both sun-exposed and sun-protected areas Personal history of melanoma Family history of atypical nevi or melanoma History of blistering sunburn

Presence of congenital nevi, with the risk of malignant change increasing proportionally with the size of the congenital nevus.