Disease Information

Solid Tumor: Melanoma

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer because it often spreads to other parts of the body. Melanoma gets its name from melanocytes—skin cells that produce a pigment called melanin, which gives skin its color.

The most common cause of melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun’s rays. Melanin helps protect the skin from UV damage, such as sunburn, depending on the amount in a person’s skin:

Other factors that may increase the likelihood of developing melanoma include the following:

How common is melanoma?

What are the symptoms of melanoma?

Melanoma skin changes include the size, shape, color and/or “feel” of a mole. “ABCDE” is used to diagnose melanoma in adults:

But childhood melanoma might not fit into those categories. Look for the following:

How is melanoma treated?

Sometimes surgery is not an option. Instead, the patient may be treated with chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapies.

What are the survival rates for melanoma?

Why choose St. Jude for your child’s melanoma treatment?

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