To speak to a specialist cancer nurse,
freefone the National Cancer Helpline
1800 200 700
Mon—Thurs 9am—7pm Fri 9am—5pm
The skin is the outer covering of your body. It protects your body from injury and infection. It also helps to control your body temperature and get rid of waste matter through your sweat glands. The skin has two main layers: the outer layer (epidermis) and the inner or deeper layer (dermis).
The outer layer has three types of cells. The first are flat, scaly cells called squamous cells. Below the squamous cells are rounder cells called basal cells. The cells that give skin its colour (make melanin) are in between the basal cells. These cells are called melanocytes.
The deepest layer called the dermis has blood and lymph vessels, hair roots and sweat glands.
In rare cases, melanoma may develop in other parts of your body. For example, your eye, mouth, under your finger nails or toe nails. Melanoma happens when the cells do not behave as normal and keep growing when there is no need. This group of abnormal cells can form a lump or tumour.
Melanoma is a cancer of the cells that make melanin, the melanocytes. Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin its colour. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer.
Melanoma happens when the cells do not behave as normal and keep growing when there is no need. This group of abnormal cells can form a lump ot tumour.
The cell changes usually start in the surface of the skin, either in a mole or in normal skin. In rare cases, melanoma may develop in other parts of the body, for example, in your eye, mouth, under your finger nails or toe nails, or in your bowel.
There are several types of melanoma and often they refer to where they grow in the body.
Superficial spreading melanoma: is the most common type. It grows along the surface of your skin, often on the legs or chest and back. It may grow out of a mole that has suddenly changed.
Nodular melanoma: is the second most common type and more common in men. It grows quite quickly down into the deeper skin layers. It may occur in normal skin that is not exposed to the sun very often. It has a raised area on the skin and may be brown or black in colour.
Lentigo melanoma: is usually found in older people and often on your feet and toenails. It begins as a small, brown freckle or stain and gradually spreads to form a bumpy surface. It can grow slowly over many years.
Acral melanoma: is usually found in the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or around the toenails. It is more common in dark-skinned people.
Melanoma of the eye: is a rare melanoma of the eye. It develops in the lining of the eyeball called the uvea.Your doctor might call it uveal melanoma.
Melanoma is one of the most common cancers both in Ireland and worldwide. It is increasing faster than any other cancer and it is rising rapidly in Ireland. Each year around 721 cases of melanoma are diagnosed in Ireland. But this number is likely to greatly increase in future years.
Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm
National Cancer Helpline
Freefone 1 800 200 700
Talk to a specialist nurse
Have you used the Irish Cancer Society's cancer information services by phone, Daffodil Centre, email, social media or this website? A UCD research team is helping us to evaluate so that we can improve those services.