What is malignant melanoma?

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Malignant melanoma is associated with the highest mortality rate among commonly diagnosed skin cancers.

Intense intermittent exposure to UV radiation via sunlight is the most significant risk factor.

A history of sunburns is another major factor.

Patients with suspicious lesions typically ask about them during primary care visits, so it is imperative that primary care clinicians learn to recognize them. Clinicians and patients can apply the ABCDE (Asymmetry, irregular Borders, Color variation, Diameter greater than 6 mm, Evolution over time) criteria to monitor suspicious lesions. Dermatoscopy can aid clinicians in the assessment.

If malignant melanoma is suspected, it is mandatory to take a biopsy and if possible operate away the hole lesion.

After a diagnosis of malignant melanoma is confirmed, a multidisciplinary approach to management is needed, with the involvement of a dermatology subspecialist and possibly an oncology subspecialist.

Surgical excision is performed for early-stage melanoma and surgical excision with wide margins and possible sentinel lymph node biopsy for stages IB or II.

For patients with metastatic disease, a combination of targeted therapy and immunotherapy is recommended. After initial treatment, patients should undergo follow-up examinations on a regular schedule. All patients diagnosed with stage IA to IV melanoma should undergo skin examinations at least annually for their lifetime. Skin cancer is very common, especially when you get older.

There are several types of skin cancer and the most common ones are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. They are far less dangerous than malignant melanoma because they regularly don’t metastasize.

To make a final diagnosis of malignant melanoma it´s necessary to send the biopsy to a pathologist. If you want to know more about what surgical pathology is I recommend to look at:

Royal college of pathologists

Beneath I have included a video from John R. Minarcik, MD who explains how pathologist make the diagnosis.

About the Author Kjell H Kjellevold

A doctor and specialist in pathology. He has always been concerned about health and how to manage a good and healthy lifestyle. The blog will mainly be about the use of essential oils, health, and training.

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1 comment
Sverre Jarl Mørk says December 28, 2020

Excellent blog you’re building!

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