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Malignant melanoma

This type of skin cancer arises from the pigment cells of the skin. Sun exposure and, in particular, sunburn in childhood, other family members with melanoma and people with many large moles are all risk factors for melanoma. Malignant melanoma can spread to lymph glands and other sites in the body.

If you have a mole that has become larger over a short time period, become irregularly pigmented, started to bleed or itch, or developed an irregular edge then this mole should be investigated.

An initial biopsy is usually done under local anaesthetic. Melanoma is treated with surgery to analyse the melanoma for certain features including its thickness. Based on this information further surgery to remove more skin is usually advised to reduce the risk of the melanoma coming back where it was. Further tests e.g sentinel node biopsy or CT scanning may also be recommended. Decisions regarding melanoma treatment are made at a Multi-Disciplinary Skin Cancer Team level. A period of follow up for regular check up is usually recommended after treatment.

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