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Malignant Melanoma

Most likely to affect: Skin on legs, back or chest

Symptoms: Strange looking mole with an irregular border

Causes: Ultra Violet (UV) rays from the sun and sun beds

Tests: Biopsy

Treatment: Surgery

Melanoma is a quite a rare type of skin cancer, although it is becoming more common in teenagers and young adults. It usually starts as a weird-looking mole. It is called 'melanoma' because it starts in skin cells called melanocytes that make a pigment (colouring) called melanin. Melanin is what gives your skin its colour the more melanin that these cells make, the darker your skin will be. A mole is a group of these cells that make lots of melanin. This looks like a dark patch on your skin.


Most melanomas develop on the skin on the legs, chest or back. In rare cases, people can get them in other parts of the body. There is also a type that loses its pigment and can look white on your skin.


The main cause of melanoma is ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or sun beds, which can really harm your skin. Most melanomas in young people are found very early when they are still very thin and in the surface layers of the skin. At this early stage the chance of cure is very high. Usually, just removing the melanoma with surgery will cure you.

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