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.
Different treatments are available for those with melanoma. Some treatments are called standard. This means they are the currently used treatments. Some treatments are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments.
When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. You may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment, while others are available during or after treatment.
Treatment options vary depending on your situation including the stage of the cancer and other factors that may be... read more Treatment
Kristi Elder lived cancer free for 12 years after treatments in her mid-20s for a rare cancer. While coming to Penn for routine follow-up, a staff member recognized that Kristi could benefit from our survivorship program. In Kristi's first visit with our Living Well after Cancer program, she and the Director, Linda Jacobs, PhD, CRNP, simply talked for over an hour about her life. Kristi received personal counseling and referrals to specialists to deal with specific side effects from her cancer treatment. This past year, Kristi was again diagnosed with the same form of cancer. Her physician at Penn has enrolled her in a clinical trial, and she credits the Living Well After Cancer program with bringing her to a place emotionally and physically where she can handle this recurrence and be hopeful about the future.
Peter O'Dwyer, MD, professor of Hematology-Oncology and program director of Development Therapeutics in the Abramson Cancer Center, was interviewed on NBC10's 10! Show about Penn's work as part of the Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team... Read more