Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer that requires immediate treatment. Melanomas usually appear as dark, asymmetrical, flat moles with irregular borders, although this is not always an accurate description of melanomas.

Melanoma, Ultraviolet Light and Risk Factors

Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun may cause melanoma in many patients. Other factors may increase an individual's risk of developing melanoma including fair skin, blue or green eyes, blonde or red hair and a family history of cancer. Those who spend a great deal of time outdoors or who a history of sunburn may also be at greater risk. Patients who have experienced one or more serious, blistering sunburn at any point in their life may also be at risk. Individuals who work outdoors are at risk as well. Other factors may increase your risk as well.

Identifying Signs of Melanoma

Melanoma may appear in moles or other existing skin growth, or may develop on otherwise clean, healthy skin. New skin growths, changes to existing skin growths, abnormal skin growths, moles that bleed, sores that do not heal and moles whose pigment spreads to the surrounding skin may be signs of melanoma. See a physician for a skin cancer screening immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. While melanoma usually appears with different colors and hues in one lesion, has irregular borders, is asymmetrical and is at least 6mm in diameter, other physical characteristics may define melanomas as well and these characteristics may not always be present. Melanomas may appear as one single color, may be symmetrical, may be raised and may not have irregular borders. For this reason, it is important to have any suspicious growth or mole checked for skin cancer.

Treatment for Melanoma and the Different Stages of Cancer

Treating melanoma is much easier if it is identified in its early stages. When it is identified in stages 0, I or II, patients may undergo a simple surgical procedure to remove the cancer, mole, lesion, growth and/or skin that is affected. Lymph node biopsies and treatment with a medicine called interferon may also be required. Some patients may also be put in a clinical trial. Treatment for melanoma in stage III or IV may require the removal of the cancer, skin and growths affected by the cancer and lymph nodes in the surrounding areas. It may also require chemotherapy, radiation and/or immunotherapy using interferon. If the disease has spread to other areas of the body, treatment may depend on the area the cancer has spread and any symptoms that are present. For more melanoma, consult a licensed physician. SkinCareGuide.com also offers further information about melanoma, its symptoms and possible treatments.