Melanoma- A very dangerous form of skin cancer. This cancer develops when DNA on the skin cells are damaged. This form of cancer develops when DNA on the skin cells are damaged. The damaging of the cells is triggered by radiation. Once they are damaged it leads to genetic defects a mutations. Like most cancers, melanoma can be benign or malignant. Benign and malignant moles can differ in many ways, including symmetry, how the border looks, color, diameter, and the way they change over time.

Superficial Spreading Melanoma- This is the most common type of Melanoma which is usually detected as a raised, discolored, patch of skin. It can also occur in older moles that were non cancerous before.

Lantigo Maligna- Most common form of Melanoma in Hawaii. Shown on people with extreme sun exposure and looks like a “mottled tan”.

Acral lentiginous melanoma- This type of Melanoma can be found on darker skinned people and usually spreads on top of the skin before penetrating the skin deeper. Most common in African-Americans and Asians, and is the least common in Caucasians.

Nodular melanoma- This is the most aggressive form of Melanoma, it is usually present in elderly people and is invasive by the time it is diagnosed.

(Skin Cancer Foundation)

How to Prevent:

In order to help prevent melanoma, there are a few things that can be done such as using appropriate suncreen (using a higher SPF for extended durations outdoors). Wearing appropriate clothing when going outside can also help reduce the risk of getting melanoma as well as wearing a hat to provide shade for your face. It is also recommended that you perform a body exam on yourself once per month, and to see your physician if anything looks out of the ordinary.


When diagnosing cancer, the earlier it is diagnosed, the better the chance of the treatment working successfully. Last year a device was created in Canada to help diagnose Melanoma. This system is called Raman Spectroscopy. This uses the Verisante Aura, which is a device that shines a light/laser onto a material and by analyzing the reelected light can determine the biochemical composition, thus making Melanoma much easier to diagnose. More recent advancements in health technology has allowed doctors to detect melanoma earlier and to monitor suspicious growths on the patient’s whole body over time. This is important because melanoma is a very rapidly growing form of cancer and time is crucial in detection of this disease. This is done through machines called “DermSpectra photo booths” and cost around $200,000. Another form of health technology that is now used to detect melanoma is called “MelaFind”. This is a handheld machine that allows doctors to better analyze the tissue or growth in question so they do not have to perform unnecessary biopsies. This technology saves both the doctor and patient time and money.

Web Resources:


Related Terminology:

  • Breslow Thickness - depth of the lesion under the skin. This is measured in Millimeters.
  • Clark’s Level Depth- A level system that shows how deep the lesion is and which layer of the skin the lesion has made contact with.
  • Cytokines- Substances created naturally as part of the immune system that are used to affect the immune response of a patient. These can also be made in the lab.
  • Radiation- high-energy particles or waves. UV radiation is part of the reason how skin cells get damaged which may lead to the development of melanoma.
  • Carcinoid Tumor- These are large and slow growing tumors. These tumors are very dangerous because they do not present many symptoms, making them hard to detect in the early stages.
  • Neurilemmoma- Also known as Schwannoma, this type of tumor that originates in the Schwann cells of the brain is also slow growing like melanoma. Also similar to melanoma, it does not present many symptoms and usual detection is around 5 years later.


John Nosta. “Simply Amazing! Instantly Diagnose Melanoma with the Flash of a Light.” 3/14/2013

Skin Cancer Foundation. Melanoma. n.d.

"Excellence in Dermatology™ Excellence in Dermatologic Surgery™ Excellence in Medical Dermatology™ Excellence in Dermatopathology™." Melanoma. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

"Melanoma." - Mayo Clinic. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

"Melanoma Center." Melanoma Center. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

"Technology Advances Melanoma Diagnosis, Treatment." Dermatology Times. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.


external image RamanSpectroscopy.jpg
System of Raman Spectroscopy Verisante aura machine that uses the Raman Spectroscopy System

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 2.54.55 PM.png
A MelaFind machine that makes detecting Melanoma easier early on