NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Melanoma - page 8

8
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
: Melanoma
Version 1.2013
Part 1: About melanoma
Definitions:
Dermis:
The second layer
of skin that is beneath the
top layer (epidermis)
Lymph nodes:
Small
groups of special disease-
fighting cells located
throughout the body
Malignant:
Cancerous,
growing out of control
Melanin:
A substance that
gives color to the skin
Melanocytes:
Cells that
give skin its color and are
located in the lower part
of the top layer of the skin
(epidermis)
Primary tumor:
The first
mass of cancer cells in the
body
Melanoma skin tumors are made of malignant
melanocytes (Figure 3). These tumors are often brown
or black because the cells still make melanin. Melanoma
is much more dangerous than most other common skin
cancers because it is more likely to spread. It may spread
through the dermis to nearby tissues and other parts of
the body. The deeper a melanoma grows into the dermis,
the higher the risk of spreading. This is why finding
melanoma as early as possible is so important. Most
people can be cured if melanoma is found early.
Figure 3. Melanocyte of the epidermis
Derivative work of Anatomy: The Skin by Don Bliss
available at:
.
cfm?imageid=4366.
Melanocyte
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