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Malignant Melanoma accounts for about 5% of skin cancers in Canada. Like other skin cancers, it tends to occur on sun exposed areas in fair skinned individuals. It is currently felt that about 40% of all melanomas originate from within pre-existing moles.

Malignant Melanoma can spread to other areas of the body.  Early detection is therefore critically important.  The "ABCDE" rule is a helpful tool to assist in identifying melanoma when it first develops in the skin.

There are a number of different forms of Malignant Melanoma.  These include:

1. Superficial Spreading Melanoma - the most common form

2. Nodular Melanoma -  may become more invasive earlier

3. Lentigo Maligna Melanoma - originating from a freckle, often on the face

4. Acral Melanoma - found on the hands & feet, including beneath the nails

The prognosis for malignant melanoma generally depends on its depth of penetration into the skin.  For small localized melanomas, the treatment is primarily surgical.  If the melanoma invades into the skin to a significant depth, then sampling local lymph glands may be necessary.  This helps identify the possibility of early spread of the cancer and may improve the outcome.


Treatment for more advanced melanomas has evolved in the last several years.  These advances offer new hope to those dealing with this difficult diagnosis.  Newer therapies include custom made proteins also known as biologics.  Such designer medicines often work by stimulating specific portions of the immune system triggering it to attack melanoma cancer cells directly.

If you have a mole that appears suspicious, don't hesitate to have it properly evaluated.


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of Skin Cancers

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1 in 50

Lifetime Incidence


5 Year Survival

*Individual Survival Dependent on Stage at Diagnosis.


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