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
Asymmetry; one half unlike the other half.
Border; irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
Color; varied from one area to another; shades of tan and brown, black; sometimes white, red or blue.
Diameter; while melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
Evolving; a mole or skinl esion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size,shape, or color.