Melanoma is a cancer of melanocytes, the skin cells which produce pigment and which make up CMN. It used to be thought that melanoma was very common in people with CMN, but we now know that it is rare, occurring in around 1-2% of all people with any size of CMN over their lifetime. However, the risk is higher in people with very large and a lot of CMN.
Melanoma in people with CMN can occur anywhere, not just within the CMN, and not just in children. It can present as a lump in the CMN, in another area of skin, or in the lymph nodes (which are throughout the body). However, melanoma is rarely if ever found in a disseminated “satellite” nevus. In about half the cases, it occurs directly within the brain or spine, when it can present with persistent headaches with nausea/vomiting, visual disturbances, balance problems, or seizures, like other tumors.
Unfortunately, when malignant melanoma occurs in a person with a CMN, it is often aggressive and difficult to treat. Our recommendations are that any rapidly changing area should be reviewed by an experienced doctor, who can decide whether a biopsy is required. Do remember, however, that nodules, lumps, and color changes appear frequently in CMN, and they are almost as frequently, completely harmless. Serial photographs, the use of dermoscopy, palpation of nevus and scars, examination of lymph nodes, and a thorough review of systems may aid physicians in the early detection of melanoma. Also, only experienced pathologists can avoid the trap of finding a growing CMN nodule “melanoma-like”; if such a report comes to you, it is worth asking for a second opinion.
We recommend that children who develop any new neurological problems such as recurrent headaches, visual disturbances, seizures, or developmental changes should be seen urgently by specialist doctors, such as a pediatric neurologist and a neuroradiologist, in a multidisciplinary institution if at all possible.
Research project for melanoma 2023
Naevus Global participates in a large European study MELCAYA. MelCAYA was presented at the MPNE congress. More information will be shared after MPNE congresses.