BSIP DR ZARA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BSIP DR ZARA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Malignant melanoma. Coloured close-up of skin showing the growth of a malignant melanoma (the round, dark growth). Melanomas are highly malignant tumours of the pigment-producing cells of the skin, or melanocytes. They may contain melanin or be free of pigment. They usually grow from an existing mole (or naevus), often after prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. The mole may enlarge, become lumpy, change colour, spread, bleed or itch. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes and liver, which is generally fatal. If they are caught early, they can be excised or treated with drugs.
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