What is melanoma

The Melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, is developing from pigment-containing cells naturally found inside the skin or mucosal areas, known as melanocytes.

In about 25% of cases they develop from a mole with changes such as an increase of size, irregular edges, change in colors, itchiness or skin breakdown.

What are the main causes of cancer

The primary causative factor is ultraviolet light (UV) from the sunlight or other sources, such as tanning devices. Especially people with many moles, history of affected family members, and poor immune functions seem to be at greater risk.

How is melanoma diagonised

Diagnosis is by tissue biopsy and analysis of any skin lesion that shows signs of being potentially cancerous.*

The American Academy of Dermatology has issued a widely acknowledged recommendation directed to both the general population and the non-dermatologist practitioner as a guideline for inspecting pigmented lesions on the skin and recognizing signs serious enough to refer to the dermatologist.

When examining moles (all over the skin, including between the fingers and toes and on the back) look for:

A. Asymmetry—one half doesn’t match the other

B. Border—edges are ragged or blurred

C. Color—uneven shades of brown, black, tan, red, white or blue

D. Diameter—a change in size (usually greater than 6mm, about the size of a pencil’s eraser)

How to treat it

If a lesion on your skin meets any of these criteria, it must be checked by a board-certified dermatologist, who will examine it and either assure you it is harmless, or take a biopsy and send it to the lab.

In the seldom case of a verified melanoma, our German board-certified dermatologist will advice and guide the patient through the next steps of therapy, which are case-dependent.

* “Melanoma Treatment–for health professionals (PDQ®)”. National Cancer Institute. June 26, 2015. Archived from the original on 4 July 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2015.