Skin Cancer: Malignant Melanoma

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    Malignant Melanoma

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Jennifer Crawley

Consultant Dermatologist
Medical Dermatology Specialist

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Malignant Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, which arises from the pigment cells (melanocytes) in the skin. In a melanoma skin cancer, the melanocytes become malignant and multiply excessively.

Malignant melanoma causes

One of the most important causes of melanoma is exposure to too much ultraviolet light in sunlight. The use of artificial sources of ultraviolet light, such as sunbeds, also increases the risk of getting a melanoma.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer because it is more likely to spread (metastasise) from the skin to other parts of the body than other types of skin cancer. If melanoma has spread to other parts of the body, those deposits are known as secondary melanoma (secondaries/metastases).

Malignant melanoma risk factors

Risk factors for melanoma include:

  • fair skin that burns easily in the sun
  • multiple freckles
  • history of severe sunburn
  • history of excess sunbed use
  • previous and family history of melanoma
  • multiple atypical naevi
  • a very large dark birthmark
  • a weakened immune system

Malignant melanoma prognosis

Although a diagnosis of melanoma can be serious, we catch most melanomas at an early stage so they do not cause any further problem. If we don’t catch lesions at the early stages then there is a higher risk of the melanoma spreading, which can reduce life expectancy.

Malignant Melanoma Treatment

The medical dermatology treatment for a suspected melanoma is surgical excision. Most patients do not need either radiotherapy or chemotherapy. You’ll need close follow-up following diagnosis.

If the mole, under dermoscopy, concerns us, we’ll perform a skin biopsy or skin excision in the minor procedure room at Clinica London.

This involves injecting a local anaesthetic to the area and removing or sampling the area. We then send this to the histopathology laboratory for analysis. We would then bring you back to discuss all the results with you and what further treatment you may need.

We also perform sequential photography of moles so we can compare if there are any changes over time. This is extremely useful for monitoring moles and lesions especially if there are many moles on the skin.

Contact us for a malignant melanoma consultation

During your appointment at Clinica London, we’ll perform a full and thorough history including potential risk factors for melanoma.

In addition, we will perform a detailed examination of your mole, including examination by dermatoscopy. Dermatoscopy involves looking at the mole with a special instrument called a dermatoscope.

This consists of a magnifier and light source and allows in-depth inspection of skin lesions to help us decide if they are benign or cancerous. We can examine all parts of the body, including the torso, limbs, face, neck, hands and feet with this method.

Talk to us about your options on 020 7935 7990

The best way to figure out whether this is something for you is to give us a call. We can answer any questions you have and help you clarify which medical dermatology treatment options are best for you.

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Video: How to reduce risks of skin cancer

What our patients say

“Dr Jane Olver was fantastic! She was so caring and sweet and it was clear that she knew what she was doing – very professional! I am absolutely over the moon with my results now!”
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