Melanoma and Pigmented Lesions


Melanoma is a type of cancer that forms from melanocytes. A melanocyte is a normal cell found in the skin that produces melanin. Melanin is a black or dark brown pigment that is seen in the skin, hair, and parts of the eye.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Other more common, but usually less serious, types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Of the many different types of melanoma, most are seen in the skin (this also includes nail beds, soles of the feet, and scalp), but melanoma can also occur in the eye, or on mucosal surfaces which include the anal canal, rectum, and vagina.

Pigmented Lesions are skin spots that are brown or black. They are usually moles. Pigmented lesions may change in size, color or border shape. They may itch or sting. Such changes could be warning signs that melanoma may be developing.

Careful monitoring of moles and quick action when they change in a suspicious way are among the steps you and your doctor can take to prevent melanoma and its consequences.

Patients with melanoma or pigmented lesions will be cared for by the team from Penn's Melanoma Program and its Pigmented Lesion/Melanoma Practice.

The Abramson Cancer Center hosts a wide range of materials and activities that provide education and support to address key areas of concern for cancer patients and their loved ones. We are proud that many of our innovative patient education programs have been recognized by national groups, including the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Patient Education Network.

Our educational materials and support activities help people deal with the physical and emotional consequences of a cancer diagnosis and treatment. They also assist patients and families to resume active lives after treatment.

Our support group meetings provide information on topics of ... read more Support

Different treatments are available for those with melanoma. Some treatments are called standard. This means they are the currently used treatments. Some treatments are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments.

When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. You may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment, while others are available during or after treatment.

Treatment options vary depending on your situation including the stage of the cancer and other factors that may be... read more Treatment

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania is committed to helping each cancer survivor find ways to enjoy life to the fullest. We have a nationally recognized program that focuses on the issues that survivors face, called "Living Well After Cancer™."

The LIVESTRONG™ Survivorship Center of Excellence, The Living Well After Cancer Program (LWAC) at the Abramson Cancer Center, directed by Linda A. Jacobs, PhD, RN, is a clinical, research, and education effort focused on early intervention and prevention of disease as the ultimate goal.

The multidisciplinary LWAC Program currently provides care and research opportunities to cancer survivors treated at Penn, the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Network hospitals, and through the Living Well ... read more Living Well

Survivor Stories

Maryann Volpe

"There is a plan and meaning for everyone. If you get through cancer it really does change you. It makes you a better person: you live more in the moment, you become more compassionate, and you deeply understand what other people are going through when coping with the same terror of cancer. If I had to talk to someone who has to go through what I went through I would say, stay positive and live in the moment with gratitude. One sure way to take focus off yourself is to help and serve others. My spiritually and prayer was so important during my cancer journey. As Mother Teresa said 'the fruit of prayer is love and the fruit of love is service.' My experience at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center was magnificent! Doctors provide compassionate care, coupled with cutting edge technology!"

- Maryann Volpe




Melanoma Trials

Phase III Randomized Trial of the Role of Whole Brain Radiation Therapy in Addition to Radiosurgery... more