Melanoma: A Guide for Patients


Guides for Patients are designed to assist patients, their relatives and caregivers to better understand the nature of different types of cancer and evaluate the best available treatment choices.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a form of cancer that begins in melanocytes, cells that make the pigment melanin, which gives skin its colour. Melanin also protects the deeper layers of the skin from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Melanoma may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as in the eye or in the intestines. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, and the information provided in this guide applies only to skin melanoma.

Beyond a definition of melanoma, in this guide for patients you will find answers to questions such as:

  • Is melanoma frequent?
  • What causes melanoma?
  • How is melanoma diagnosed?
  • What is important to know to get the optimal treatment?
  • What are the treatment options?
  • What happens after the treatment?

This guide for patients has been prepared in collaboration with Anti-Cancer Fund as a service to patients, to help patients and their relatives better understand the nature of Melanoma and appreciate the best treatment choices available according to the subtype of Melanoma. ESMO recommends that patients ask their doctors about what tests or types of treatments are needed for their type and stage of disease.

Patient Guides for Melanoma were published in 2011 and updated in 2013. Currently the Patient Guide in Melanoma is under update.

To enquire about permission to translate or support the distribution (in English or in a translated version) of the Patient Guides series, please send an e-mail to

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