Starting with A for "ACE inhibitor" and continuing through to Y for "Yolk Sac Tumour", we give you succinct explanations for scientific and medical terms in clear and simple words.
- Malignant MelanomaA tumour which occurs on the skin or, more rarely, mucous membrane. Malignant melanoma originates in the pigment forming cells in the skin or, more rarely, in the mucous membrane, the choroids of the eye or the cerebral membranes. This often arises spontaneously from skin which has previously been fully normal or from a birthmark which is already present.
The number of cases of malignant melanoma has been clearly increasing in recent years. It is thought that the reason for this is greater exposure to the sun, particularly if sunburn occurs frequently.
Diagnosis: Early recognition on the basis of the following symptoms: rapid increase in the size of a birth mark, development of a raised surface, increase in pigmentation, red and inflamed area round a birthmark, formation of an ulcer, swelling of the connected lymph nodes and subjective symptoms such as pain, itch and restlessness in the tumour. Metastases are searched for using X-rays and ultrasound.
Tumour Classification: The danger from the tumour is evaluated from the degree of metastasis formation and the thickness of the tumour. The rate of growth is also determined and the involvement of vessels is evaluated.
Therapy: Surgical removal of the tumour, allowing a clear safety zone of 1-3 cm and cutting down to the muscle fibres. If metastases have formed, drug treatment (chemotherapy) and immunotherapy are necessary. Radiotherapy may be useful in severe cases.
Prognosis: The chances of cure depend on the degree of metastasis formation and on the thickness of the tumour and its site. The prognosis is regarded as unfavourable for malignant melanoma on the skin of the head, mucous membranes, retina, sexual organs (better for women) and, for example, the extremities.
Glossary entries: Roche and Walter de Gruyter, Berlin