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A melanoma is a type of cancerous tumor that is generally found on the skin but can also be found on the small intestine and eyes. Although it is one of the rarer types of skin cancer, it is the one responsible for the majority of skin cancer deaths. Melanomas have the dark pigment characteristic of moles, but tend to be more irregular in shape. It mainly affects persons of European ancestry who live in sunny climates and sun exposure is one of the highest risk factors for the disease, although it also tends to run in families. Treatment is generally by surgical removal.
One of the most effective ways of spotting melanomas is to use the acronym ABCDE:
- Asymmetrical skin lesion
- Border is irregular
- Color - multiple colors
- Diameter is large (more than 6mm)
Diagnosis is generally by close examination or biopsy of the suspect site.