Melanoma is a cancer that begins in melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment melanin that colors the skin, hair, and eyes, as well as forms moles.
Approximately 68,130 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2010. Melanoma represents 5% of skin cancer causes, but causes the majority of skin cancer deaths. If not treated early, melanoma spreads to lymph nodes and almost any other organ in the body (most often to the liver, lungs, bones, and brain).
Approximately 84% of melanomas are diagnosed at the localized stage. Keep a watchful eye on any skin irregularities and follow the ABCD rule:
- A is for asymmetry (uneven sides)
- B is for border irregularity (edges are not smooth)
- C is for color (inconsistent color pattern)
- D is for diameter great than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser)
Here are a few fast facts about TYPE cancer:
- Risk Factors: UV radiation (Sun & tanning booths), moles, genetics and light skin/hair
- Treatment: Varies largely by stage, but may include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or radiation therapy
- Survival: For localized melanoma, the 5-year survival rate is 98%; 5-year survival rates for regional and distant stage diseases are 62% and 15%, respectively
- Deaths: 8,700 deaths are expected to occur in 2010
- Leading Charity: Melanoma Research Foundation
- Awareness Ribbon: Black
- Awareness Month: May
- More Stats: Start with American Cancer Society or their Facts & Figures