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Definition of Melanoma

Melanoma: The most dangerous form of skin cancer, a malignancy of the melanocyte, the cell that produces pigment in the skin. Melanoma is most common in people with fair skin, but can occur in people with all skin colors. Most melanomas present as a dark, mole-like spot that spreads and, unlike a mole, has an irregular border. The tendency toward melanoma may be inherited, and the risk increases with overexposure to the sun and sunburn.

Melanoma is classified into four clinical types which are called:

  • acral-lentiginous melanoma,
  • lentigo maligna melanoma,
  • nodular melanoma, and
  • superficial spreading melanoma.

Fair-skinned people and people with a family history of melanoma should always use a high-SPF sunscreen when outdoors. Everyone who has concern about an unusual mole-like spot should see their doctor. Detected early, melanoma is almost always treatable. Undetected, melanoma can spread rapidly and be fatal.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=4342
Last Editorial Review: 8/28/2013

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