Melanoma is considered the most dangerous form of skin cancer as it typically will spread to other areas of the body, including organs, if left untreated.
Non-melanoma skin cancers, such as Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma, are generally considered less dangerous as they are less likely to spread and can usually be treated with a simple surgery. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, including areas not exposed to the sun, like inside the mouth or the palms of the hands. Men are more likely to get melanomas on their back while women are more likely to experience them on their legs.
Melanoma begins in melanocyte cells. It occurs when those cells behave abnormally, growing excessively and taking over surrounding tissues. Melanomas can develop from existing moles or skin growths, but, more commonly, they will start as a new growth.
For more on common forms of skin cancer, view our page on Skin Cancer.
“Most cases of melanoma are likely caused by radiation from sunlight; some studies even put incidences of skin cancer caused by sun exposure at around 95%.”
Melanoma has been on the rise for years for different reasons. Increased tanning, low awareness and more sun exposure during holidays.
Early detection is the key to treating it. The earlier it is found, the more treatment options there are.
Make sure to self-check your whole body every 3 months if you have more than 50 moles. In other cases, do it at least twice per year.
Scalp melanoma is one of these harder-to-detect forms of the cancer and it is one of the deadliest forms at that.
If you have any moles that have a different appearance to the rest of the moles on your body, then you must keep an eye on them. These moles are called dysplastic moles and can evolve into melanomas. These moles tend to be larger than common moles, have irregular edges and are an uneven colour.
These images give you an idea of the types of things you may look for in your own moles and represent moles that may not on first inspection appear harmful, but do require investigation. Mostly these moles have changed shape, size or colour and have therefore been noticed as unusual or suspect.
More: Early melanoma pictures
Knowing the symptoms of melanoma can be the key to catching it early and saving your life. Melanoma typically begins as a new mole or skin growth, so its symptoms are usually visible to the eye and physical in nature.