Melanoma is a type of cancer that forms from melanocytes. A melanocyte is a normal cell found in the skin that produces melanin. Melanin is a black or dark brown pigment that is seen in the skin, hair, and parts of the eye.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Other more common, but usually less serious, types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Of the many different types of melanoma, most are seen in the skin (this also includes nail beds, soles of the feet, and scalp), but melanoma can also occur in the eye, or on mucosal surfaces which include the anal canal, rectum, and vagina.
Pigmented Lesions are skin spots that are brown or black. They are usually moles. Pigmented lesions may change in size, color or border shape. They may itch or sting. Such changes could be warning signs that melanoma may be developing.
Careful monitoring of moles and quick action when they change in a suspicious way are among the steps you and your doctor can take to prevent melanoma and its consequences.
Patients with melanoma or pigmented lesions will be cared for by the team from Penn's Melanoma Program and its Pigmented Lesion/Melanoma Practice.
Suzi F. Garber, of Reading, PA., a neuroendocrine tumor patient at the Abramson Cancer Center, writes about her experience so that others might benefit from her story and become proactive advocates for themselves and their loved ones.
For many years, I had been misdiagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome. After I wound up in the emergency ward in intense pain, I had a battery of tests -- I had an ileal bowel obstruction. An octreotide scan showed spots in my liver which was subsequently biopsied and were positive for carcinoid cancer, Stage IV. I had been diagnosed with a rare cancer that both had metastasized and was inoperable at the time.
Watch Focus On Melanoma Conference - Get information on the latest advances in melanoma risk, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, symptom management and psychosocial issues.