DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Malignant melanoma. Close-up of the skin of a 71 year old man showing the growth of a malignant melanoma (dark area). Melanomas are tumours of the pigment-producing cells of the skin, or melanocytes. They may contain melanin (as here) 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 the 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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