Melanoma is a malignant skin cancer which occurs in melanin-producing cells. It usually affects the skin but may also appear in the nasal mucosa, lips and eyeballs, and rarely in the digestive or lymphatic system. Let’s check the must-know information on melanoma.

Should we have melanoma and other skin lesions removed?

We should, or even have to. Removing suspicious-looking blemishes reduces the risk of melanoma occurence. Just remember that cancerous lesions should be removed using scalpel, not laser. This method is used for examining the removed blemish and checking it for malignant transformation. Obviously, if the melanoma metastasizes, removing the lesion isn’t enough.

Does melanoma affect the skin only?

Yes, in most cases, it does appear on the skin. It occurs wherever there are melanocytes. Melanotic whitlow is a kind of melanoma and usually attacks people who have already been diagnosed with skin cancer and people past their fifties. The disease mostly affects the thumb nail or big toe nail and takes the form of an oblong dark line going through the middle of the nail.

Is skin cancer incurable?

Skin cancer can be cured provided that it’s detected and diagnosed early enough. At the first stage of the disease, even 90% of patients have a chance of full recovery whereas the surgeon’s intervention is limited to removing the lesion with a small margin of a healthy tissue.

Are people who don’t have any marks on the skin likely to suffer from melanoma?

Yes, they are. However, people who have marks and moles do regular check-ups and consult their doctors. Prevention matters a lot: protecting the sun against harmful effect of UV radiation.

Does melanoma always appear exactly where the lesion is?

Not always. Even half of melanomas affects healthy skin. That’s why removing all marks doesn’t make sense; you have to remove ones that turn out to be hazardous in the dermoscopy examination. You should also remember that summer isn’t the best time for such treatments since skin sweats and wounds take longer to heal, plus the post-surgery skin would be exposed to the sunlight, which isn’t a good idea.

Is melanoma capable of metastasizing?

Yes, melanoma is aggressive and metastatizes during early stages through lymph and blood vessels, to rather distant regions (lungs, bones, liver, brain). Most metastases occur usually after one or two years since diagnosis.