Clinical Update: Malignant Melanoma
Malignant melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It can arise on normal skin or from an existing mole. Risk factors for malignant melanoma include large amounts of exposure to natural or artificial sunlight, a fair complexion, a history of severe sunburns in youth, the presence of moles, and a family history of atypical nevi.
A helpful mnemonic to use when examining skin lesions and assessing for malignant melanoma is ABCDE:
A = Asymmetrical lesion
B = Border is irregular
C = Colors of lesion are multiple
D = Diameter of the lesion is greater than 0.5 cm
E = Elevated or Enlarging lesion
If not treated promptly, malignant melanoma can spread to other areas of the skin, the lymph nodes, and other organs. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and/or biologic therapy.
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