Melanoma is a cancer that starts in cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are pigment producing cells. They are mostly found in the skin. Most melanomas develop in parts of the body that are exposed to the sun. But you can get them anywhere, including in body organs, because there are melanocytes in these areas too. That is why you sometimes hear melanoma of the skin called cutaneous melanoma. Cutaneous means of the skin. It is still not clear why melanomas can form in parts of the body that are not exposed to the sun.
About 2 in every 100 melanomas (2%) are diagnosed in the vagina or vulva. White women are at higher risk of vulval melanoma than black women. Vulval melanoma is most often found in women older than 50. The signs and symptoms of vaginal and vulval melanoma can include
But in some cases, a doctor finds vaginal or vulval melanoma during a routine cervical screening test when the vagina and vulva are also examined.
Even though some melanomas grow in parts of the body that don't see the sun, it is still very important to remember that the best way to keep your risk of melanoma or other skin cancers as low as possible is to avoid being in the sun too much. It is extremely important to look after your skin and report any signs or symptoms of skin cancer to your doctor immediately.
If you have melanoma in an unusual site such as genital skin or inside the nose or sinuses, your treatment will be planned by a multidisciplinary team (MDT). The team will include skin melanoma specialists and surgeons and oncologists who normally treat genital cancer or cancers inside the nose and sinuses.
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