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Basics of melanoma.

Melanoma happens when a certain type of skin cell, called a melanocyte, starts to grow out of control. Melanocytes are cells that produce a brown pigment called melanin. Melanin protects the deeper layers from the effects of the sun. It is what you see when sun-exposed skin becomes freckled or tanned.

While melanoma is much less common than other types of skin cancer, it is considered to be more serious because it can spread to other parts of the body if it’s not detected and treated early. The American Cancer Society® estimates more than 90,000 cases will be diagnosed in 2018. It is one of the most common types of cancer in young adults.1

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, but is most common on the parts of the body that are most often exposed to the sun – the chest and back in men, and the legs in women. The face and neck are also common places for melanoma to develop in both men and women.

Common treatments for melanoma include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy, which helps the immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells
  • Targeted drugs, which focus on keeping specific types of cancer cells from growing

The type of treatment your doctor plans for you will be determined by the stage (or extent) of the melanoma, whether it has spread to other parts of the body, and your overall state of health.

Because most treatments for cancer have side effects, it’s important to take care of yourself both before and during treatment. Things you can do to make treatment easier include:

  • Getting enough rest
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Staying physically active
  • Staying connected with family and friends

If you have any questions about your treatment, or have concerns about side effects, talk to your doctor or call your CVS Specialty CareTeam.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical condition and prior to starting any new treatment. CVS Specialty assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

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1American Cancer Society® Website. Accessed October 3, 2018.

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