Melanoma skin cancers
Malignant melanoma is the rarest but most dangerous type of skin cancer. It is one of the most common cancers among 20- to 35-year-olds, especially in Australia and New Zealand. All forms of skin cancer have been on the increase over the past twenty years, however, the highest rate of increase worldwide is noted for malignant melanoma.
Malignant melanoma may arise as a new mole or as changes in colour, shape, size or sensation of an old spot, freckle or mole. Melanomas tend to have an irregular outline and a patchy colouring. Itching is another common symptom but is also found in normal moles. If recognized and treated early, the chances of survival are good. If untreated, the tumour can develop rapidly, and cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body.
The causes of malignant melanoma are not fully understood. Exposure during childhood is thought to be more important than exposure later in life. Tumour development may be linked to occasional exposure to short periods of intense sunlight, such as at weekends or on holiday. The higher incidence of malignant melanoma in indoor workers compared to outdoor workers supports that notion.
Watch out for early symptoms of malignant melanoma
If you have a mole, freckle or spot you are concerned about, go and see a dermatologist! It may well not be a melanoma; however, if it is a melanoma, it is crucial that it is recognized and treated early.
Check regularly for any mole that grows, changes shape or colour, is inflamed or itchy, weeps or bleeds