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Clinical features and diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma

Susan Swetter, MD
Alan C Geller, RN, MPH
Section Editor
Hensin Tsao, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Rosamaria Corona, MD, DSc


Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and the sixth most common cancer in North America [1]; its incidence increases with age. Five-year survival rates for people with melanoma depend on the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis. There are five stages: stage 0 is in situ (intraepithelial) melanoma, stage I and II are localized cutaneous disease, stage III is regional nodal disease, and stage IV is distant metastatic disease (table 1A-B). Most people with thin stage I lesions can expect prolonged disease-free survival and even cure, whereas those with later stage II to IV lesions are more likely to die from metastatic disease [2,3].

This topic will discuss the clinical features and diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma. The rationale for performing regular screening skin examinations is discussed separately. The histopathologic features, initial management, and staging of melanoma are discussed separately. The clinical features, diagnosis, and management of melanoma in children are also discussed separately.

(See "Screening and early detection of melanoma".)

(See "Pathologic characteristics of melanoma".)

(See "Initial surgical management of melanoma of the skin and unusual sites".)


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