Melanoma is a skin disease where cancerous cells grow in the melanocytes, the cells that generate skin color. Melanoma is either known as malignant melanoma or cutaneous melanoma.
Of all types of skin cancer plaguing mankind, melanoma is considered the most serious. The epidermis, or the topmost layer of the skin, contains three types of cells liable to become cancerous. Those are squamous cells, basal cells and melanocytes. Squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancer are known as non-melanoma skin cancers. They are more widespread than melanoma. Melanoma, which is relatively less common than the other two, is indubitably more serious and complicated to treat than either squamous cell cancer or basal cell cancer.
Though it is normally found in adults, melanoma can be sporadically spotted in children and young people. The cancer generally grows in an already existing mole or a new mole that appears on the skin. Men commonly get melanomas on the area between the hips and the shoulders, the neck or the head. Women, on the other hand, contract the disease mostly on the arms of the legs. In exceptional cases, it can grow in body parts that are not covered by the skin, such as mouth, eyes, large intestines or vagina.
Melanoma can be cured if diagnosed early. Unlike other types of skin cancer, however, it can rapidly reach other parts of the body through the lymph system or the blood. Melanoma is responsible for about 80% of deaths occurring from skin cancer, although it constitutes less than 5% of all skin cancer cases. In the United States, the reported number of melanoma cases is growing alarmingly.