"Five things to know about ... melanoma" in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) provides a brief overview of this malignant skin cancer for physicians and patients.
Sun exposure is an important factor in the development of melanoma, so it often appears on the face, neck, arms and torso, where sun exposure is common.
Melanoma can also occur on areas with minimal sun exposure, such as palms and soles of the feet.
A specific mitogen-activated pathway is linked to mutations causing melanoma and genomic sequencing is helping identify markers for diagnosis and treatment.
About 10% of melanomas are challenging to diagnose as they may be pink, red, clear or normal skin-coloured.
Patients with any suspicious skin lesions should be referred to dermatology. Coloured lesions with any of the ABCDE criteria -- Asymmetric shape, irregular Border, Colour variation, Diameter greater than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser) and Evolution (change) -- should be considered suspicious.