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Melanoma: Clinical features and diagnosis

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, stages I and II are localized invasive cutaneous disease, stage III is regional nodal disease, and stage IV is distant metastatic disease (table 1A-B). Most people with thin stage I melanoma can expect prolonged disease-free survival and likely cure following treatment, whereas those with more advanced stage II to IV lesions are more likely to develop metastatic disease [2,3].

This topic will discuss the clinical features and diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma. The principles and rationale of screening and early detection of melanoma are discussed separately, as are histopathologic features, initial management, and staging of melanoma. The clinical features, diagnosis, and management of mucosal melanoma, ocular melanoma, and melanoma in children are also discussed separately.

(See "Screening and early detection of melanoma in adults and adolescents".)

(See "Pathologic characteristics of melanoma".)

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

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 27, 2017.
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