Medical Definition of Melanoma
Melanoma: a cancer of the melanocyte, the cell that produces pigment in the skin. Melanoma is considered the most dangerous form of skin cancer, Melanoma is most common in people with fair skin, but can occur in people with all skin colors. Most melanomas present as a dark, mole-like spot that spreads and, unlike a mole, has an irregular border. The tendency toward melanoma may be inherited and the risk increases with overexposure to the sun and sunburn.
Melanoma is classified into four clinical types called:
- acral-lentiginous melanoma,
- lentigo maligna melanoma,
- nodular melanoma, and
- superficial spreading melanoma.
Fair-skinned people and people with a family history of melanoma should always use a high-SPF sunscreen when outdoors. Everyone who has concern about an unusual mole-like spot should see their doctor. Detected early, melanoma is almost always treatable. Undetected, melanoma can spread rapidly and be fatal. Metastatic melanoma refers to melanoma that has spread beyond the skin to distant organs. Metastatic melanoma typically carries a worse prognosis that localized melanoma.
REFERENCE: Rakel RE, Rakel D. "Textbook of Family Medicine." 9th edition. 2015 Saunders.
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