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Diagnosing Melanoma: What Does the Dermatologist Look For?

This is a 2 minute video about what a dermatologists does when screening for melanoma. Dr Susan Sweeter, an expert  from Stanford Medical Center, is interviewed. Here’s more information from our companion website,

Melanomas and nonmelanomas are cancers that originate in the outer layer of the skin, or the epidermis. The epidermis is made up of three kinds of cells. Skin cancers are defined by the type of cell from which they develop. Squamous cell carcinoma arises from squamous cells, — thin flat cells that make up the top layer of the epidermis. Basal cell carcinoma develops in basal cells — round cells that lie beneath the layer of squamous cells.

These two types of skin cancer are referred to as nonmelanoma to distinguish them from melanoma, which develops in melanocytes. Melanocytes form the bottom layer of the epidermis and determine the skin color of an individual. Nonmelanomas are relatively slow growing and rarely spread (metastasize). In contrast, melanoma cells are much more likely to invade nearby lymphatic vessels and/or spread to other parts of the body, making them potentially more harmful. They are the focus here.

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