Melanoma Surgery

Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment cells of the skin. Like cancers in other parts of the body, it is composed of cells which multiply without the normal control of the body’s regulating systems.

Just as the specific cause of most cancers is not fully understood, it has not yet been possible to completely identify how melanoma develops. However it has been determined that living in climates with high levels of ultraviolet light greatly increases the incidence of melanoma. New Zealand, with such a climate has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world along with Australia.

Melanoma results at least in part from the interaction of the accumulated ultra violet irradiation from the sun and the varying ability of different skin types to resist this damage. Nonetheless melanoma does not always occur in body parts which have received the most sun exposure.

Some individuals and families with specific forms of dysplastic (unusual) naevi (moles) are at particular risk of developing melanoma.

It is important to understand that cancers do not develop directly from normal cells but progressively evolve in a series of stages that can frequently be readily identified with expert examinations. As such, a number of changes in the skin can be identified as representing changes in the pigment cells which are pre-cancerous.

Click here to read more on the NZ Melanoma Unit website