Melanoma (Skin Cancer)

Melanoma (Skin Cancer)

What is melanoma?

Melanoma starts in skin cells called melanocytes. One cancerous tumor (malignant) is a group is Cancers Cells. A tumor can also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Melanocytes make melanin. Melanin gives color to skin, hair, hair and eyes. The skin is the body big human body and it covers your whole body. It protects you from damage around you, like the sun, hot temperatures and germs. The skin controls the temperature of the body, evacuates the waste from the body by the sweat glands and provides the touch. It also helps to make vitamin D.

Melanocytes can cluster and form moles on the skin. They appear as bumps or spots that are ready to be brown or pink. Most people have some moles. They are non-cancerous (benign) tumors.

But in some cases, changes that affect melanocytes can cause melanoma. A change in the color, size or shape of a mole is usually the first sign of melanoma. There are 4 main types of melanoma. Extensive superficial melanoma is the most common type. The other types are nodular melanoma, lento malignant melanoma and lentiginous melanoma of the extremities.

Melanoma can also appear in other parts of the body where melanocytes are found, but these forms of melanoma are rare. Mucosal melanoma begins on the thin, moist lining of certain organs or other parts of the body, such as the nasal passages, the mouth and the anal canal. Intraocular melanoma starts in the eye.

There is another type of skin cancer known as non-melanoma skin cancer. This type of cancer is more common than melanoma. Non-melanoma skin cancer originates in basal cells or squamous cells of the skin.


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Skin Cancer

Detecting and treating skin cancer (melanoma or other melanoma) at an early stage increases the chances of successful treatment. Have a regular check-up and see your doctor if you have symptoms or are worried about your health.

If your risk is above average, you may need to see your doctor more often to check for skin cancer. Talk to your doctor about what can help you find early-stage skin cancer, including checking your skin and getting a skin test from a qualified health professional.

Check your skin

You should check your skin regularly to see if it has changed. This will help you know what is normal for your skin and notice something unusual. Consult your doctor if you notice any changes.

How to check?

Check your skin in a well-lit room. Use a mirror to carefully observe your entire body.

Raise your arms and observe your left side then your right side in the mirror. Observe your armpits and your arms. Check your hands, each finger, the area between each of your fingers and your nails.

Look at the front, sides and back of your legs. Look at the top and bottom of your feet, your toenails and the space between each toe. Also check your genital area and the space between your buttocks.

Look at your face, neck, neck and scalp. Use a hand mirror and a full-length mirror, as well as a comb, to check your scalp.

Ask someone you trust to help you check hard-to-see areas.

What to search?

Skin cancer usually appears as an abnormal area or change anywhere on the skin. Find and note any changes including these:

a wound that does not heal or reappears after healing

a mole or wound that oozes, bleeds or forms a crust

a change in the color, size or shape of a mole or a stain of wine

a mass or region that is itchy, irritated or sore

rough or scaly red patches

small smooth and shiny masses of pearly white, pink or red

pale white or yellow flat areas that look like scars

raised masses whose center is recessed

What to do if you notice a change on your skin

Tell your doctor as soon as possible if you see that your skin has changed. He will then make a skin examination to specifically check this area and look for any signs of skin cancer. He could refer you to a specialist, such as a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. Your doctor can give you a biopsy to find out if the cancer is present.

Examination of the skin

Skin examination allows your doctor or other qualified health professional to look for signs of skin cancer or an abnormal skin surface. This is often done during the annual health check. Regularly and thoroughly examining your skin can help detect early skin cancer.

Symptoms of Melanoma

Melanoma can vary in appearance. It often takes birth in the form of an abnormal mole, anywhere on the skin. A mole is a common non-cancerous mass. It normally looks like a small, round or oval spot that is usually brown, light brown, or pink. It can be elevated or flat. Most people have some moles.

A change in the color, size or shape of a mole is usually the first sign of melanoma. These changes can occur to a mole or spot that is already on your skin, or changes can appear in the form of a new mole. Other conditions may also look like melanoma.

The ABCDE rule below can help you in your examination of the common signs and symptoms of melanoma. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following changes on your skin:

A means asymmetry - One of the two halves of the mole is not of the same shape as the other.

B means irregular border - The outline of the mole is uneven (irregular). It may have unequal, indented or fuzzy edges. The color can extend to the area around the mole.

C means different colors - The color of the mole is not the same everywhere. The mole may have tints of light brown, brown and black. Blue, gray, red, pink or white areas are sometimes seen.

D means diameter - The size of the mole is more than 6 mm (1/4 inch) in diameter, about the size of an eraser at the end of a pencil.

E means evolution - There is a change in the color, size, shape or texture of the mole. The mole may itch or you may have a burning or tingling sensation.

Other signs and symptoms of melanoma include:

region that does not cure

mole that oozes or bleeds

presence of scraped skin with open lesion (ulceration)

For examples of what to look for using the ABCDE rule, visit the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation website.


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Treatments of Melanoma

If you have melanoma, your healthcare team will develop a treatment plan just for you. This plan will consider your health status and specific information about cancer. When your healthcare team decides what treatments to offer for melanoma, it takes the following into consideration:

stage of cancer - whether the cancer is early, loco regional or metastatic

the risk of recurrence of cancer (recurrence)

the location of cancer

the effects of treatments on your appearance

your personal preferences (what you want)

You may be offered one or more of the following treatments for melanoma:


Surgery is the main treatment for most melanomas. Depending on the stage and risk of cancer recurrence, one or more of the following types of surgery may be performed.

Wide local excision removes cancer and some normal tissue all around (surgical margin). It is used as a first treatment for early-stage melanoma, loco regional melanoma, or local melanoma recurrence.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy (BGS) is used to find and remove the first lymph node (or the first) in a group of lymph nodes to see if it contains cancer cells. It may be used in early stage melanoma when the tumor is thick.

Complete ganglion dissection removes a group of lymph nodes from the body. It is used in loco regional melanoma or local recurrence of melanoma that has spread to neighboring lymph nodes.

Reconstructive surgery repairs the skin and the surrounding area after a tumor has been removed. When a large area of skin has been removed to ensure that there is no cancer left, the doctor reconstructs the area using a piece of skin taken from another part of the body, called a graft skin or skin flap.

Metastatic surgery can be performed to remove metastatic melanoma that has spread to only one region or regions on or just under the skin, or to the lung, liver, brain, or small intestine.


Immunotherapy uses drugs to help the body's immune system fight cancer cells. It is sometimes given after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer, or to reduce the size of melanoma and control its growth when surgery cannot be performed.


In external radiotherapy, an apparatus is used to direct a beam of rays to the skin region and a small amount of neighboring tissue. It is sometimes used after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer, or as a palliative treatment to control the symptoms of advanced melanoma.


In chemotherapy, anti-cancer drugs (cytotoxic drugs) are used to destroy cancer cells. The drugs can be administered throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy) in the case of metastatic melanoma. Medications can be given directly into an arm or leg (regional chemotherapy) in the case of a local recurrence of melanoma that appears only in one limb.

Targeted treatment

In targeted therapy, drugs are used to target specific molecules (such as proteins) on the surface or inside cancer cells to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to normal cells. It is usually used in people with metastatic melanoma who have certain changes (mutations) in the BRAF gene.

If you cannot or do not want to receive cancer treatment

You might consider getting a type of care that makes you feel better without treating the cancer itself. This could be because cancer treatments are no longer effective, are no longer likely to improve your condition or can cause side effects that are difficult to cope with. There may also be other reasons why you cannot or do not want to receive cancer treatment.

Discuss with your healthcare team. She can help you choose care and treatment for advanced cancer.


Post-treatment follow-up is an important component of caring for people with cancer. You will need to have regular follow-up visits, especially during the first 5 years after treatment. These visits allow your healthcare team to track your progress and find out how you are recovering from the treatment.

Clinical tests

Some melanoma clinical trials are underway in Canada and accept participants. Clinical trials aim to find new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. Learn more about clinical trials

Questions to ask about treatment

In order to make the right decisions for you, ask questions about treatment to your healthcare team.


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