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Cancer Genetics

Malignant Melanoma

08/02/2000

Question:

Why is melanoma so often called malignant melanoma? There is no kind of melanoma other than malignant. We don`t hear of malignant leukemia or malignant breast cancer. Why malignant melanoma?

Answer:

A melanoma is technically any benign or malignant tumor which contains cells producing the pigment melanin. A benign melanoma is better known today as a mole. Because of the fear associated with a malignant melanoma, health professionals over the years stopped referring to simple moles as melanomas. Now "melanoma" is often used interchangeably for "malignant melanoma".

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Response by:

Judith A Westman, MD Judith A Westman, MD
Associate Professor, Clinical Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Medical Biochemistry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University