Malignant melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer that if left untreated is life-threatening. Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidence of malignant melanoma.
Within the skin there are normal pigment cells called melanocytes, which gives our natural skin colour and also form the moles (naevi) on our body. When the melanocytes undergo cancerous change then it is known as a malignant melanoma. The development of malignant melanoma is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors.
Malignant melanomas can arise as a new spot on your skin or from an existing mole that has recently changed. It is important to tell your dermatologist about any new or changing moles. A biopsy is necessary to make a diagnosis of malignant melanoma. The treatment is dependent on the stage and type of malignant melanoma. Early stage melanomas are usually successfully treated with standard surgical excision.