Melanoma Skin Cancer 2024-04-04T12:47:25+00:00

Melanoma Skin Cancer

All About Melanoma Skin Cancer: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in melanocytes, the pigment cells responsible for producing melanin, which gives colour to the skin, hair, and eyes. When these cells undergo malignant mutation, they can transform into melanoma.

Accounting for only 1% of skin cancers, dermatology melanoma is considered highly dangerous. It can be aggressive, growing rapidly and spreading to lymph nodes and internal organs. Melanomas can appear as irregularly shaped or coloured patches or bumps. 

1 in 3 melanomas develop from a normal mole. However, they can also arise from normal skin, affecting various areas such as the eyes, mouth, digestive tract, urinary tract, or vagina.

At Manningham, we’re your melanoma skin cancer clinic, providing skin cancer servicesand comprehensive care in skin cancer treatment.  

Melanoma Symptoms:  When Should You See A Doctor? 

Recognising the symptoms of melanoma is crucial for early detection. You should consult a doctor if you observe:

  • Changes in the shape or colour of an existing mole
  • The sudden appearance of a new lump on the skin
  • A spot that becomes painful, itchy, or starts to bleed
  • Presence of a spot or sore that is red, rough, flat, and dry
  • A lump that bleeds unexpectedly
  • A persistent skin sore that refuses to heal
  • Experiencing fatigue or nausea

If not treated promptly, early forms of skin cancer, like Bowen’s disease—displayed as a red, scaly patch—can progress to squamous cell carcinoma. 

Melanoma Skin Check & Diagnosis

Diagnosing melanoma involves a meticulous and comprehensive approach, starting with a visual melanoma skin check by a skin specialist, and then a sample will be taken through a biopsy. 

The presence of ulceration is a significant predictor of the outcomes, guiding medical professionals in determining the severity of the condition. In cases where distant spread is suspected, there will be more tests, including CT scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. The blood test LDH is also a valuable tool in assessing metastatic disease.

A doctor will also follow the ABCDE parameters in the diagnosis process; if you observe any of the following aspects, seek consultation immediately. 

Stages of Melanoma Skin Cancer

Stage  Size Description  
Less than 0.1mm Melanoma (in situ) has spread to the epidermis, the top layer of the skin.
1 Less than 2mm Melanoma remains within the skin but has grown thicker, with thickness ranging up to 1.0 millimeters.

In Stage 1A, the skin covering the melanoma remains intact, while in Stage 1B, the skin has broken open (ulcerated).  Beyond 1.0 millimetres, the skin covering the melanoma may have broken open (ulcerated), but the cancer has not spread.

2 Greater than 2mm Melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes or nearby skin
3 Has spread to lymph nodes  Melanoma has spread to either one or more nearby lymph nodes or nearby skin.
4 Has spread to distant skin and other parts of the body Melanoma has spread to internal organs and lymph nodes further from the original melanoma or is found on the skin far from the original lesion.

Melanoma Types

  • Superficial Spreading Melanoma is the most common type in people under 40. It involves 55-60% of melanomas and often starts as a new spot or changes in an existing freckle or mole. It becomes more dangerous when invading the dermis.
  • Nodular Melanoma is usually found in people over 65, accounting for 10-15% of melanomas. It appears as a raised lump on the skin, often with a crusty surface. It is fast-growing and aggressive, spreading quickly into the dermis.
  • Lentigo Maligna Melanoma is predominant in people over 40, accounting for 10-15% of melanomas. It begins as a large coloured spot and may grow slowly over many years before penetrating deeper into the skin.
  • Acral Lentiginous Melanoma is a rare type affecting common people over 40, with just around 1-2% of melanomas. It appears as a colourless or lightly pigmented area, often found on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands.
  • Desmoplastic Melanoma accounts for around 1-2% of melanomas, affecting people 60; it starts as a firm, growing lump with a colour akin to the skin. Often mistaken for a scar, it is typically found on sun-damaged skin on the head or neck and exhibits slower spread than other melanoma types. 

Melanoma Treatment

There are a variety of treatment options available for melanoma. Treatment choice depends on factors such as the disease’s stage, specific genetic mutations, and the patient’s health.

In early-stage melanoma, surgery is the most common treatment. The extent of surgery depends on the cancer stage; some treatments include: 

In the early stages, the surgeon removes the melanoma along with a margin of healthy tissue. This is often curative for localised melanomas.

  • Lymph Node Dissection

If melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes, surgical removal of those nodes may be necessary. This helps prevent further spread within the lymphatic system.

In cases where a significant amount of skin is removed, especially in advanced stages, skin grafts may aid healing.

Other treatments include Immunotherapy and Targeted Therapy. For more advanced stages of Melanoma where the cancer has spread, it may be necessary to use complementary therapies such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy. 

In cases of late-stage melanoma where curative treatment options are limited, palliative care becomes essential. The focus shifts to improving the patient’s quality of life, managing symptoms, and providing emotional support.

A collaborative approach will involve oncologists, surgeons, and other skin specialists to ensure a comprehensive and tailored strategy for each patient’s unique cases.

Risk Factors

Many factors can contribute to susceptibility to this type of skin cancer, and recognising them can aid in adopting proactive measures.

  • Family History: A genetic predisposition to melanoma.
  • Personal History: A history of prior skin cancer diagnoses.
  • Light Hair and Eye Color: Greater susceptibility to UV damage.
  • Multiple Moles: Increased risk, especially if atypical.
  • Immunosuppression: Weakened immune system, increasing vulnerability.

Understanding these risk factors can empower you to take proactive steps to detect melanoma. Regular skin checks, sun-safe practices, and prompt medical attention for any concerning changes are essential for early detection and effective treatment outcomes. 


From 2015 to 2019, individuals diagnosed with melanoma had a 94% chance of surviving for five years. Between 1990–1994 and 2015–2019, five-year relative survival increased from 90% to 94%. These statistics underscore the advancements in diagnosis and treatment, offering a positive outlook for melanoma patients. (Melanoma of the skin statistics | Cancer Australia. (2023).

Prevention and Early Detection are key.

Given Australia and New Zealand’s high incidence rates of melanoma, prevention and early detection are crucial. 

Regular checks and mole mapping are essential, and here are some tips for early detection:

  • Monitor changes in moles and spots
  • Use sunscreen regularly
  • Seek shade during peak sun hours
  • Wear protective clothing, including hats and sunglasses

Need Melanoma Specialists? We’re here to help.

If you have concerns and need personalised advice on melanoma in Australia, book a consultation with the specialised team of skin specialists at Manningham Skin Cancer Clinic. We offer exceptional skin cancer services. 

Early detection and prompt intervention can significantly affect your treatment outcomes.

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