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is a very serious form of skin cancer. It begins in melanocytes— cells
that make the skin pigment called melanin.
cancer is the most common cancer in the United States,
affecting some 1 million Americans every year. The are
three main types of skin cancer:
1. Basal cell, the most prevalent
2. squamous cell
3. Malignant melanoma.
and squamous cell cancers have a good prognosis, but are
at higher risk for developing additional skin cancers.
of the skin or cutaneous malignant melanoma, the rarest
but most lethal form of skin cancer, is responsible for
about three-fourths of all deaths from skin cancer.
puts me at risk?
to solar ultraviolet radiation (UV light) is well established
as a major risk factor for melanoma.
For information on family history, log onto:
U.S. Surgeon General ’s Family History Initiative
melanoma prevention begins with avoidance of exposure
to the sun, especially during midday.
who cannot avoid the sun should limit direct sun exposure
using broad-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, pants,
sun-resistant fabrics, or sunscreen.
tanning beds and tan accelerating agents.
During a skin cancer screening, your doctor will probably discuss your medical
history and inspect your skin from head to toe — including areas not
exposed to the sun. He or she will record the location, size, and color of
any moles. If a mole looks unusual, he or she may arrange for a biopsy.
about UV Index
The UV Index is issued daily to advise you on the strength of the sun's UV
rays in your region. The higher the UV Index level, the greater the strength
of the sun's UV rays and the faster you may burn. The UV Index was designed
to help you make informed decisions about the time you spend in the sun.
for Early Detection
with fair complexions and freckles are at increased risk
for basal and squamous cell carcinoma, as well as for
melanoma. Those with moles are at increased risk for
melanoma. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers often
look like a pale, waxlike, pearly nodule, or a red, scaly,
sharply outlined patch. Melanomas often start as small,
mole-like growths that increase in size and change color,
which usually starts as black or dark brown. Signs of
that are uneven or irregular
that is uneven and unusual
larger than a quarter inch
are often called the ABCDs of melanoma.
Regular examination of the skin by both you and your doctor increases the chance of finding melanoma early. Most melanomas that appear in the skin can be seen by the naked eye.
Usually, there is a long period of time when the tumor grows beneath the top layer of skin but does not grow into the deeper skin layers. This period of slow growth allows time for skin cancer to be found early. Skin cancer may be cured if the tumor is found before it spreads deeper. Monthly self-examination of the skin may help find changes that should be reported to a doctor. Regular skin checks by a doctor are important for people who have already had skin cancer.
For more information on screening, log onto:
National Cancer Institute
diagnosis and staging, the doctor develops a treatment plan
to fit each patient's needs. Treatment for melanoma depends
on the extent of the disease, the patient's age and general
health, as well as other factors.
team of specialists, which may include a dermatologist, surgeon,
medical oncologist, and plastic surgeon, often treats people
standard treatment for melanoma is surgery.
Surgery- Surgery to remove (excise) a
melanoma is the standard treatment for this disease. It
is necessary to remove not only the tumor but also some
normal tissue around it in order to minimize the chance
that any cancer will be left in the area.
some cases, doctors may also use chemotherapy, biological
therapy, or radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy- Chemotherapy is the use
of drugs to kill cancer cells. It is generally a systemic
therapy, meaning that it can affect cancer cells throughout
the body. In chemotherapy, one or more anticancer drugs
are given by mouth or by injection into a blood vessel
(intravenous). Either way, the drugs enter the bloodstream
and travel through the body.
Biological Therapy- Biological therapy
(also called immunotherapy) is a form of treatment that
uses the body's immune system, either directly or indirectly,
to fight cancer or to lessen side effects caused by some
cancer treatments. Biological therapy is also a systemic
therapy and involves the use of substances called biological
response modifiers (BRMs). The body normally produces these
substances in small amounts in response to infection and
disease. Using modern laboratory techniques, scientists
can produce BRMs in large amounts for use in cancer treatment.
In some cases, biological therapy given after surgery can
help prevent melanoma from recurring.
Radiation Therapy- radiation therapy (also
called radiotherapy) is used to relieve some of the symptoms
caused by melanoma. Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy
rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is a local
therapy; it affects cells only in the treated area. Radiation
therapy is most commonly used to help control melanoma
that has spread to the brain, bones, and other parts of
doctors may decide to use one treatment method or a combination
For more information on treatment options, log onto:
National Cancer Institute
For information on finding a doctor or treatment facility, log onto: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/doctor-facility
- Clinical trials are research studies in which people help doctors find ways to improve health and cancer care. Each study tries to answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer.
- A clinical trial is one of the final stages of a long and careful cancer research process. Studies are done with cancer patients to find out whether promising approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are safe and effective.
- Different types of clinical trials include:
- Treatment trials
- Prevention trials
- Screening trials
- Quality of life trials
For more information on clinical trials, log onto:
- Palliative care is a coordinated, inter-disciplinary approach to healthcare
that enhances the quality of life of patients with cancer and other illnesses.
It targets the physical and psychological symptoms and spiritual needs of patients
from the time of diagnosis to end-of-life care in all settings.
For more information on Palliative Care , log onto:
The World Oncology Network
New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Children Coping with Parents with Melanoma
more about all different types of cancers.
that children might have dealing with cancer.
to help children understand more about certain cancers.
from other children.
For more information, log onto:
Cancer Control Plan
New Jersey State Cancer Registry