Malignant Melanoma Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims

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Malignant Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that originates in the melanocytes, which make pigment for the skin. It is much more serious that other skin cancers with many more deaths compared to other skin cancers. About 50,000 cases of melanoma are found in the US each year.

Most melanomas are easily visible as dark mole-like lesions on the skin. They tend to be irregular in shape and can be raised or flat against the skin. They are easily curable if found early. This is why you should have all abnormal lesions checked by a physician. They can be cured by minor surgery.

With melanoma, you can’t diagnose it yourself. Your doctor should see these lesions. While there are many different spots that can form on the skin, especially as we age, melanoma has specific characteristics that make you more likely to have melanoma. The same is true for moles, which usually stay the same and are not inherently dangerous. Moles can, however, change and can become melanoma.

There are some guidelines to look for when suspicious for melanoma. Melanoma diagnosis depends on the ABCDs. These are what they mean:

  • Asymmetry: This means that a part of the lesion is different from the other part.
  • Border irregularity: The borders are uneven, notched and irregular.
  • Color: The color is irregular with different shades of red, black, brown or blue.
  • Diameter: The lesion is greater in diameter than the size of a pencil eraser.

This is a rough guide to go by when deciding that the lesion might be a melanoma or not. If you have any lesion that has changed, however, you should see your doctor. In addition, pay attention as to whether or not the lesion has changed. If the lesion changes rapidly, it is more likely to be malignant than if it is a slow growing lesion. Malignant melanomas tend to bleed if scratched so pay attention to that as well.

There are several risk factors for melanoma. Getting sunburned frequently can be a risk factor in getting melanoma. Frequent sunburns at a young age will definitely increase your risk. Other risk factors include the following:

  • Caucasian or white race
  • Being fair skinned with light hair and light colored eyes can increase the risk
  • History of high level, intermittent exposure to the sun, especially as a kid
  • Having a hundred or more moles on your body
  • Having large, unusual and irregular moles
  • Having a first degree relative like a parent, child or sibling have malignant melanoma

Even though only 10 percent of malignant melanomas are considered hereditary, if there is a family history, you should be examined more regularly than those who have no family history.

The best way to know whether or not you are at risk for malignant melanoma is to have a complete body skin examination by a qualified dermatologist. The dermatologist will look at your normal and questionable lesions, doing biopsies of those areas of the skin that are questionable. Any atypical moles are biopsied for melanotic properties. If your skin is found to be healthy, then you might not need an annual check-up for evaluation of your skin. Higher risk patients need a six month or annual examination for skin diseases.

The treatment of melanoma is usually just surgery. There is a type of surgery known as a Mohs procedure, which takes slices off the melanoma layer by layer until the microscopic evaluation shows no evidence of cancer. Then the area is treated with a skin flap treatment so that the skin is covered with normal skin. If the cancer comes back, it is often to the skin grafted area and to distant sites within the body. If this happens, radiation and chemotherapy can be attempted. If neither of these therapies work out, the patient generally dies of their disease.

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