According to CureSearch, melanoma is a cancer of the skin that originates from the cells that give pigment or color to our skin, hair and eyes. Most melanomas occur in the skin, although they can also occur in the eye. Although melanoma is not the most common skin cancer, it is the most serious one. About 60,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States and about 450 of these patients will be less than 20 year old.
Stages of Melanoma
Melanoma can be classified according to four stages, from I to IV, indicating the severity of the disease.
Patients with stage I and II disease have melanoma in the skin only and are classified as Ia Ib IIa or IIb depending on how deep the melanoma goes into the skin (Breslow’s thickness) and whether the melanoma has an ulcer or not in its surface.
Patients with stage III disease have melanoma that has spread to the lymph nodes
Patients with Stage IV disease have melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body such as the liver, lung or brain.
Treatment of Melanoma
For patients with stage I and II disease, surgery is the treatment of choice. Your doctor may wish to remove additional normal skin around the site of the biopsy depending on how deep the melanoma was.
For patients with stage III disease, your doctor may recommend a lymph node dissection, followed by a medicine called interferon.
If tumor has spread to other sites, several treatments such as chemotherapy (Cisplatin, DTIC), Immunotherapy (IL-2, interferon) or vaccines might be offered by your doctor.
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Adapted from CureSearch: http://curesearch.org/Skin-Cancer-in-Children (Accessed July 2016)