The term Malignant Melanoma is used when there is a malignant cell formation of pigment-producing skin cells. Currently, there are around 100,000 new cases of so-called ‘black skin’ cancer every year. It tends to spread metastases to the lymphatic and blood vessels and is the most common fatal skin disease, with rising numbers of new cases worldwide.
The number of patients suffering from a melanoma doubles about every seven years. Beforehand they attributed this primarily to changes in leisure patterns. UV radiation is regarded as the most important environmental cause of melanoma. Despite many campaigns in the last two decades, the idea of “Being tanned = being healthy” is still prevalent, so despite increased health awareness, the number of new cases continues to rise each year.
Light-skinned people with red and blond hair and a light eye colour, as well as people with a general tendency to sunburn or with freckles, are especially at risk of developing a Malignant Melanoma. Other risk factors include a high number of ordinary moles, and a weakened immune system.
A physician with appropriate experience can identify a Malignant Melanoma by a visual inspection of the patient’s skin. In case of doubt, an area of the suspicious skin with a corresponding safety margin, is taken and examined under the microscope to verify the diagnosis. Otherwise, doctors keep to the ABCDE rule:
A = Asymmetrical,
B = Borders are uneven
C = Colour, diversifying within the lesion,
D = Diameter greater than 5 mm,
E = Evolving, new, and appearing in a short time on an otherwise flat surface.