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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Melanoma requires precision cancer care.
Our doctors treat only cancer.

Melanoma is a cancer that forms in melanocytes, the skin cells that produce a brown pigment known as melanin. These are the cells that darken when exposed to the sun, a protective response to shield the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. But, unlike other forms of skin cancer, melanoma may develop in parts of the body not normally exposed to sunlight, such as the groin or bottoms of the feet. It may also form in the eye.

Melanoma is more likely than other skin cancers to spread to the lymph nodes or metastasize to other parts of the body. Melanoma accounts for about 2 percent of all skin cancer cases, but it is also responsible for most deaths caused by skin cancer. Viewed separately from the other forms of skin cancer, melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the United States, with more than 85,000 cases diagnosed each year.

Melanoma can be a complex disease, so it is important to work with experienced cancer doctors who employ state-of-the-art technologies and treatments. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our oncologists have experience with the growing array of precision cancer treatments for melanoma, including immunotherapy and targeted therapy.

Your CTCA® 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 melanoma-related side effects.

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What's the difference in skin cells?


Treatments and prognoses for skin cancer vary greatly, depending on the skin cells affected. Learn the difference between the cells of the skin, including melanocytes and basal, squamous and Merkel cells.

Learn About Melanoma

Melanoma develops when cancer cells form in melanocytes, the cells that produce the brown skin pigment known as melanin. The disease, which accounts for about 2 percent of all skin cancer cases, is the fifth most common cancer in the United States. Symptoms include a dark spot, a sore that doesn’t heal and a wound that grows, changes shape or bleeds. People who spend lots of time outdoors without adequate coverage or sunscreen are at an increased risk.

Learn more about melanoma

Melanoma Diagnostic Evaluations

The first step in diagnosing melanoma is a physical examination by a doctor. While melanoma often exhibits clear signs, only a doctor can diagnose the disease, which includes identifying its type and stage. Your oncologist or dermatologist will likely first visually examine the suspicious spot, then use a special microscope or magnifying lens to look at it more closely. A sample of the growth will then be removed as part of a biopsy, so the cells can be inspected for signs of cancer.

Learn more about melanoma diagnostic evaluations

Melanoma Treatment Options

Melanoma is more likely than other skin cancers to be aggressive and metastasize to distant organs, especially the brain, liver or lungs. That’s why it is important to diagnose the disease as early as possible and identify an appropriate treatment plan personalized to you and your needs. Surgery is the most common first-line treatment for melanoma. Other treatments include chemotherapy, radiation and, increasingly, precision-focused options like immunotherapy and targeted therapy.

Learn more about melanoma treatment options

Melanoma Supportive Care Services

Melanoma treatments may lead to a number of side effects. Surgery, for example, often causes pain and scarring. Chemotherapy patients may experience nausea and hair loss, while some immunotherapy drugs may cause fatigue, loss of appetite and rashes. Knowing how side effects may impact patients’ quality of life during and after treatment, our hospitals are committed to helping them manage these challenges, by providing a range of evidence-informed supportive care services.

Learn more about melanoma supportive care services

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Melanoma Q&A

naturopathic medicine

Get answers to questions about skin cancer types, treatments and prevention.