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Malignant Melanoma: An Emerging and Preventable Medical Catastrophe

  • Edward T. Creagan
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Dr. E. T. Creagan, Division of Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic Rochester, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905
    Affiliations
    Division of Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Rochester, Minnesota
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      The natural history of malignant melanoma, including the diagnosis, prognosis,.and treatment options, is reviewed in an attempt to formulate appropriate management strategies. Awareness on the part of clinicians is important, inasmuch as early detection of malignant melanoma offers the best chance for improved survival. Most lesions are excised with a margin of 1 to 3 cm, and follow-up assessment intervals are based on the depth of the primary lesion. Follow-up usually consists of a medical history, physical examination, chest roentgenography, and hematologic and chemistry profiles. Routine use of sophisticated imaging studies is unnecessary because the yieid from such an approach has been low. Patients with melanomas thicker than 1.6 mm and those with histologic evidence of involvement of regional lymph nodes are at risk for development of disseminated disease and may be candidates for adjuvant therapy. In patients with severe weight loss and poor nutrition because of advanced disease, analgesic agents, stool softeners, and appetite enhancers are palliative measures that should be considered.
      CT (computed tomographic), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
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