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Melanoma, also known as malignant melanoma, is a type of skin cancer that develops from pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, which produce melanin—the pigment that gives your skin its colour. When melanocytes start to grow out of control, it leads to melanoma. Although melanoma is less common than other types of skin cancer, it is the most dangerous type as it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body if it isn’t caught and treated early.
Melanomas exhibit changes in an existing mole, or develop as newly pignmented or unusual-looking growth on the skin. In order to help remember the characteristics that may indicate melanoma, use the letters ABCDE:
Asymmetrical shape: Asymmetrical or irregular shapes, such as two halves of a mole-like lesion that don’t look alike at all
Border: Irregular, notched, or scalloped borders
Colour: An uneven distribution of colour, or even many colours
Diameter: New growth in a mole larger than 6 millimeters
Evolving: Changes in an existing mole, such as growth in size or changes in colour or shape; also look for new symptoms in an existing moles, such as itchiness or bleeding
Melanomas can vary in appearance quite a bit. Some may exhibit all of the characteristics listed above, while others may have only one or two. They can develop anywhere on the body.
Melanoma is caused by DNA damage in melanocytes, the melanin-producing cells which give that gives your skin its colour. Exactly what causes this damage is unclear. It may be a combination of both environmental and genetic factors. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds is believed to be one of the causes. However, UV radiation does not contribute to all melanomas, as indicated by melanomas shielded from sunlight exposure, further adding to evidence that other factors contribute to the development of melanoma.
At TMSC, we carefully excise the melanoma lesion with appropriate margins and send it for pathology analysis.
Our surgeons are highly trained and experienced professionals who care deeply about their patients. Rest assured all of our procedures are carried out with the utmost care, precision, and in a safe environment.
Treatment of melanoma is covered by OHIP.