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This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science

This page was updated on July 20, 2022.

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, and the number of new cases has risen significantly since the early 1990s. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 100,640 people in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2024. Melanoma is less common than some other types of skin cancer, but it’s more likely to grow and spread.

No melanoma patient is the same. Get personalized treatment.

Melanoma is a complex disease, so it’s important to work with experienced cancer doctors who are trained and up to date on today’s technologies and treatments. At City of Hope, our oncologists have experience with the growing array of precision cancer treatments for the disease, including immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Early-stage melanoma is often treated with surgery alone, but advanced melanoma generally requires surgery in combination with other treatments. Your City of Hope care team will explain your options and design an individualized plan based on your specific needs. We also offer evidence-informed supportive care services to help you manage treatment-related side effects.

This overview will cover the basic facts about melanoma, including:

If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of melanoma and want to schedule an appointment for diagnostic testing, or if you’re interested in a second opinion on your melanoma diagnosis and treatment plan, call us or chat online with a member of our team.

What causes melanoma?

Who gets melanoma?

Though the exact cause of melanoma isn’t always clear, the primary risk factor is exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds. People who have had frequent sunburns, especially as children, have an increased risk.

Learn more about risk factors for melanoma

Todd Hardy

Todd H.

Lung Cancer

"When I first heard the diagnosis, I was scared. There is no way to avoid the worst thoughts and fears when you hear this news. But with the help of my wife and the support of City of Hope, I was able to think things through, steady myself for the road ahead, and keep going."


More About TODD

Melanoma types

The most common type of melanoma is cutaneous, which develops on the skin. While most melanomas develop on skin exposed to the sun, the disease may also be found in areas not exposed.

Other types of melanoma include:

Melanoma that has spread to distant organs is called metastatic melanoma. The disease most often spreads to the lungs, liver, bone and/or brain.

Learn more facts about melanoma types

Melanoma symptoms

Diagnosing melanoma

Diagnosing melanoma begins with a visual examination. If a suspicious mole is found, a doctor may remove it and send a sample to the laboratory to determine if it is melanoma, some other form of skin cancer or a benign growth. If melanoma is found, more extensive surgery may be required to completely remove the tumor and surrounding tissue. Further examinations may be used to determine if the melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant organs.

Learn more about procedures and tests to diagnose melanoma

Melanoma treatment options

City of Hope approach to helping you maintain your quality of life

At City of Hope, our collaborative team of clinicians attacks the disease with conventional treatments while using evidence-informed therapies to help patients manage symptom- and treatment-related side effects. This supportive approach to cancer care helps melanoma patients better tolerate side effects so they can reduce treatment delays and get the most out of life.

Melanoma patients often experience side effects like weight loss, fatigue and nausea. Your care team will work with you to suggest supportive therapies that may help. That may include meeting with an oncology-trained, registered dietitian to address nutrition-related deficiencies and to help you maintain your body weight and strength, and fight infection. Nutritional support can also help manage fatigue and nausea.

Your care team may also recommend naturopathic support, which focuses on using natural, non-toxic techniques to support the self-healing process. Our naturopathic providers meet with patients to review their medical history, listen to their concerns and suggest a variety of natural therapeutic options, including dietary supplements and homeopathic remedies.

Because your care team works all under one roof, you have access to a team of physicians, practitioners and support staff who can tailor treatments and supportive therapies to your specific needs, in real time.