Frank McCourt Dies of Meningitis and Malignant Melanoma

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As reported a couple of days ago, Angela’s Ashes author, Frank McCourt, was gravely ill with meningitis. He died today from that illness. McCourt had recently been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer.

Melanoma is a cancer that forms in skin cells, called melanocytes, which produce skin pigment. These cells grow in an uncontrolled fashion and form tumors. Although melanoma is one of the rarer skin cancers, it is responsible for most of the skin cancer deaths. Risk factors for melanoma include family history of melanoma, fair skin, frequent sunburns in childhood, atypical (precancerous) moles, and having more than 50 benign moles.

When caught in an early stage, melanoma can be successfully treated, therefore a very useful diagram, from the American Academy of Dermatology, about the signs of melanoma is reproduced below:

The ABCDEs of Melanoma

07.19.skin01Asymmetry; one half unlike the other half.

07.19.skin02Border; irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.

07.19.skin03Color; varied from one area to another; shades of tan and brown, black; sometimes white, red or blue.

07.19.skin04 Diameter; while melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.

07.19.skin05Evolving; a mole or skinl esion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size,shape, or color.

07.19.skin06

.rs.melanoma

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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