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There are two main categories of skin cancer, namely, melanoma (malignant melanoma) and non-melanoma.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has been increasing over the past decades, and WHO estimates that a 10 % decrease in ozone levels will result in an additional 300 000 non-melanoma and 4 500 melanoma skin cancer cases globally.

Melanoma among South African men is ranked 4th most prevalent cancer (NCR 2022), and as the 5th most prevalent cancer among women (NCR 2022).

The increase in the prevalence of skin cancer may be due to improved screening methods or an overall increase in numbers of people diagnosed.

Melanoma, is less common than other skin cancers, but it is the most dangerous.

Metastatic Melanoma

“Metastatic” means that the melanoma has spread to one or more parts of one’s body. It is also referred to as ‘advanced’ or ‘Stage IV’ Melanoma. Although it cannot be cured, it can be treated.

Melanoma starts in the cells that make melanin, the pigment that gives colour to one’s skin. It can spread anywhere in the body, but it first tends to go to the lymph nodes (a network of glands that fight infection) near where it formed.

From there it can travel to organs like the brain, lungs, liver, and bones, as well as other areas of the skin — including places far away from where it started (what doctors call the “primary site”).

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