Melanoma is a scary disease because it can often look quite similar to harmless looking blemishes, like a mole or a freckle. According to DermNet New Zealand, about 75% of melanomas are new spots that appear in otherwise normal looking skin. The rest will form from an existing mole or spot. The key to early detection is knowing the warning signs that distinguish the harmless from the dangerous.
Melanoma is an aggressive cancer with a high likelihood of metastasis. Metastatic melanoma simply means that the melanoma has spread from its initial site in the body. This occurs in stage III and stage IV of the four stages of melanoma. If caught early, while it’s still only present in the skin, melanoma is a highly treatable disease, curable in approximately 95 to 98 percent of cases. However, once it has metastasized, the 5-year survival rate is less than 15%, depending on which organs it has spread to.
Melanoma can appear anywhere on the body, both for men and women. But there are some indicators that are possible signs of melanoma. And some places that can be described as 'hidden', where melanoma skin cancer can occur as well. We'll go deeper into that below.
Skin cancers are by far the most common type of cancer, next to being the fastest growing cancer as well. To illustrate that with a number: in the US alone, estimates from several cancer organizations state that about 5.4 million Basal and Squamous Cell skin cancers are diagnosed each year. The most common type of skin cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) - 8 out of 10 diagnoses are this type. Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is therefore more rare.