Review: Introduction to Skin Cancer

Here is what we have learned from Introduction to Skin Cancer:

  • Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that occurs in the melanocytes, which are cells in the outer layer of the skin that produce the skin coloring or pigment known as melanin.
  • In the United States, melanoma accounts for about 4% of all adult cancers.
  • Internationally, the incidence of melanoma varies greatly, with the highest incidence occurring in Australia, the United States, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Israel, and the lowest incidence in Japan, the Philippines, China and India.
  • Melanoma commonly afflicts the young and middle aged; however, people of all ages are at risk.
  • Melanoma is more prevalent among white populations than in blacks and Asians; the incidence of melanoma in blacks is approximately 1/20 than that of whites.
  • There has been a dramatic increase in melanoma incidence over the last century, due to prevention and early detection practices.
  • Melanoma mortality rates have not increased as sharply.
  • Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type of melanoma, representing approximately 70% of all melanomas.
  • Nodular melanoma represents about 15% of all melanomas and becomes invasive soon after first appearing.
  • Acral-lentiginous melanoma is the most common melanoma in dark-skinned people.
  • Melanoma risk factors include sun exposure, family history, genetics and phenotypical traits such as skin, hair and eye color.
  • Change in an existing mole is the most common symptom of melanoma.
  • The American Cancer Society's ABCD system of detection includes looking for changes in mole asymmetry, border irregularity, color and diameter.
  • Prognosis with melanoma depends on melanoma thickness and ulceration.
  • Melanoma may be cured if caught and treated early; however, it is rarely curable in its later stages. Survival rates are directly related to stage at diagnosis.