Malignant melanoma is a type of skin cancer which begins in a cells called as melanocytes (these cells gives pigment to the skin).
It is more commonly seen in the white population and is related to the skin damage caused by ultraviolet rays of sun.
Malignant melanoma is more common in white population. Certain factors are associated with an increased risk of developing a melanoma
Malignant melanomas can spread very fast. It can spread to the draining lymph nodes, visceral organs like lungs, liver, bone etc.
Early melanomas can be differentiated from the benign nevus by the popular mnemonic ABCDE –
If there is a strong suspicion of a melanoma, a biopsy is performed which can be an excisional biopsy or an incisional biopsy.
Once diagnosis of a melanoma is confirmed, evaluation of draining lymph nodes by sentinel lymph node biopsy is required for lesions >1mm deep. Cross sectional imaging will also be required in many cases.
Wide local excision of the primary tumour is curable in early stage melanomas.
Biopsy of sentinel lymph nodes is a widely used procedure for skin melanoma. It is commonly performed for lesions >1mm thick. If a lymph node comes positive for disease, a radical lymph node dissection will often be required.
For patients with metastatic disease, medical management and/or radiation therapy will also be required. Medical treatment can include targeted therapy (BRAF inhibitors, KIT inhibitors), immunotherapy (Interferon, anti CTLA 4, Interleukin 2) and combination chemotherapy.
Outcome depends upon factors like type of melanoma and stage of disease.
For patients with disease 1mm or less in thickness, 5 yr survival is more than 90%. For patients with localized disease > 1mm thickness, 5 yr survival is between 50- 90%. For patients with distant metastasis, 5 yr survival is less than 10%.
At Best Cancer Hospital – RGCI&RC we offer standard of care treatment for patients with melanoma with molecular testing (BRAF analysis) and standard surgical and medical care.