Melanoma

Awareness Color: Black
Awareness Month/Day(s): May

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Melanoma are cancerous growths that develop when damaged skin cells' DNA mutates and begin to multiply rapidly into malignant tumors.

Melanoma often resemble moles, sometimes developing from existing moles. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease.

Melanoma kills an estimated 8,790 people in the US annually.

If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates that at present, about 120,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed in a year. In 2010, about 68,130 of these were invasive melanomas, with about 38,870 in males and 29,260 in women.

*Sources: From American Diabetes Association, http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma

Definition of melanoma: A form of cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). It may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as in the eye or in the intestines. Estimated new cases and deaths from melanoma in the United States in 2014: • New cases: 76,100 • Deaths: 9,710

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