Melanoma occurs when the melanocytes, which are cells that create the pigment (called melanin) in the skin and eyes, become cancerous. Melanocytes are in the lower part of the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis.
Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer, and it is diagnosed more often in adults than in children or adolescents. It can occur anywhere on the body, but for men, melanoma most often affects the trunk, head or neck, and for women, it most often affects on the arms and legs.
More than 76,000 melanoma cases are diagnosed each year in the United States.
There is no such thing as a routine melanoma. Every patient’s disease is different, with different, individually unique genes and molecules driving that specific cancer.
At the OSUCCC – James, our melanoma sub-specialists are world-renowned cancer experts who focus solely on these tumors and who reach across medical disciplines (medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, dermatologists, head and neck specialists, pharmacists, nurse sub-specialists and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.
In fact, our unique Multidisciplinary Melanoma Clinic offers all newly diagnosed melanoma patients an on-site, thorough evaluation and treatment-options review with experts from radiation oncology, surgical oncology, medical oncology, neuro oncology and dermatology – all on the same day – so that together, the patient and the experts can decide on the best personalized treatment options.
Additionally, patients have access to advanced treatment procedures performed only at the OSUCCC – James by internationally recognized experts in melanoma.
And by offering access to the country’s most advanced clinical trials right here at the OSUCCC – James, patients know that additional options, when needed, are often available for their treatment and care.
Types of Melanoma
The OSUCCC – James specialists will classify the type of melanoma based on where the cancer occurs and on careful analysis of the subtypes of cancer cells.
Melanoma may be classified as:
- Cutaneous melanoma, which develops in skin cells
- Mucous membrane melanoma, which develops in the moist, thin layers that cover organs and cavities, such as the lips
- Ocular melanoma
The OSUCCC – James melanoma experts further classify melanoma based on the cancer’s cellular and molecular make-up. These classifications includes:
- Superficial spreading
- Lentigo maligna
- Acral lentiginous (palmar/plantar and subungual)
- And further unusual types, including:
- Mucosal lentiginous (oral and genital)
(Source: National Cancer Institute)
Melanoma symptoms include a change in the appearance of a mole or pigmented area.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- A mole that:
- Changes in size, shape or color
- Has irregular edges or borders
- Is more than one color
- Is asymmetrical (if the mole is divided in half, the two halves are different in size or shape)
- Oozes, bleeds or is ulcerated (which means a hole forms in the skin when the top layer of cells breaks down and the tissue below shows through)
- A change in pigmented (colored) skin
- Satellite moles (new moles that grow near an existing mole)
Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have melanoma. But if you have symptoms, you should tell your doctor, especially if symptoms have continued for longer than a few weeks.
If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a melanoma specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.