Melanomas arise from pigment cells. They are located all over the body, especially in the epidermis. Often on the trunk in men and on the legs in women. Usually a melanoma arises from a birthmark.
The following ABCD method is often used to recognize a melanoma on your skin:
- Asymmetry: the stain is not the same shape on both sides.
- Borders: The stain has a faint, sometimes tapered, ragged edge.
- Color: the stain consists of different colors (white, brown, black and red).
- Diameter: the spot is a lot bigger than a normal birthmark (the rule is a diameter of more than 6 millimeters).
For itching and other irritation
It is also advisable to consult a doctor if a birthmark bleeds and/or irritates with stinging, itching and inflammation. Increased risk of melanoma: total number of moles > 100, light complexion, blond or red hair, blue eyes and freckles.
Types of melanoma
The most common melanoma form is superficial spreading melanoma (70%), nodular type (20%) grows both in depth and laterally, lentigo maligna melanoma (5%) and the rare acrolentigenic melanoma (about 5%) occurs on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or under the nail.
About 2% of melanomas occur in people younger than 20 years and 0.3-0.4% in prepubescent children.
The hereditary form
Familial melanoma / FAMMM (familial atypical multiple mole melanoma) syndrome is defined as 3 or more melanomas, 2 of which occur in first degree relatives (parents, children, brothers and sisters). In about 10% of cases, melanoma is hereditary in the family and in 40% of cases there is a CDKN2A gene abnormality.
If you are a carrier of this gene defect, the lifetime risk increases to 70% at the age of 80. There is also a combination melanoma pancreatic cancer syndrome in which there is both melanoma and pancreatic cancer (17-20% around the age of 50 years).