Malignant melanoma, more commonly known simply as melanoma, is a cancer that is initiated in the melanin-containing cells in the lower layer of the skin. It is characterized by a brown or black molelike lesion. Like any skin cancer, ominous signs to help recognize this condition are an increase in size , a darkening or variation in the colour of the lesion, itching, bleeding or an associated lump in the closest lymph gland group .

Unfortunately melanomas do not always fall into this category and can be pale and quite unno-ticeable. These are, however, rare. Individuals who have many moles have no greater risk of any mole becoming a melanoma but have more moles and therefore have more lesions to be wary of.

A malignant melanoma may remain localized for a few months but if left unattended will generally spread and grow in other parts of the body rapidly. Melanomas are occasionally spotted on routine eye examinations as they can form in the retina but, like most internal cancers, unless spotted through a routine examination may not show symptoms until the spread has taken place.


See Cancer, Cancer of the skin and Operations and surgery.

Specific attention may be paid to the herbs Astragalus, containing the alkaloid swainsonine, and Chaparral, both of which have been shown through scientific studies to have an effect on this type of cancer.

Research is currently underway to produce a vaccine prepared from melanoma cells that triggers a body response to attack melanoma generally. It is in its early stages yet, and we watch with interest.