Melanoma : Definition, Appearance and Treatment


Melanocyte is a layer of cells in the innermost layer of the epidermis that produces melanin or the brown-black skin pigment that controls skin and hair color.  The melanin helps in protecting our skin from the damage caused by the sun’s rays.  When cells expand in a controlled manner, the lesion produced is what we call mole or nevus.  Commonly, moles are benign but when the growth comes out of control, they become cancerous melanoma.




It is advised that if you see a new mole (most especially during adulthood) or a mole that changes its appearance, you have to contact your physician as soon as possible.




The most common kind of melanoma is superficial spreading melanoma.  It is described as a flat, irregularly shaped and colored lesion. It may be found at any age or body part of—mostly—the Caucasian group.


Melanoma tumors are frequently multi-colored.  They are whitish, bluish (bluish black) and reddish at the same time in a particular lesion.


Melanomas can also be found underneath the fingernails and appear to be bluish black or black in color.  It is called as acral lentiginous melanoma and is the least commonly known of its kind.  It can also be found in palm and soles of the feet. Most of the time, this kind of melanoma is found in African-Americans.


Lentigo maligna melanoma (or can be addressed as Hutchinson’s freckle) is often found in people in their senior years.  It is characterized as flat, tan or brownish blotches with irregular borders.  They are mostly found on the face or other areas exposed to the sun.  They can gradually grow for 5-15 years before becoming invasive.




The treatment for the cancerous or malignant melanoma depends on several factors like the patient’s overall health, spread of cancer to the lymph nodes or other body organs.  If melanoma is discovered early, it can be cured but it is scattered to the lymph nodes, it may come back.  The cure rate for melanoma that has expanded to organs and tissues is relatively low.