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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 29 July 2008
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Dr Elizabeth Baird, specialist dermatologist at Remuera Dermatology, outlines what melanoma is. She explains what is meant by dissemination and why it is so important to remove melanoma before it disseminates.

Acknowledgements:
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Dr Roger Uren

Transcript

DR ELIZABETH BAIRD
Melanoma is a nasty cancer, which can spread to the lymph nodes and through the body, and is a common cause of death unfortunately in New Zealand. There is no good treatment for disseminated melanoma. When you want to treat melanoma, you really want to be at the top of the cliff, removing small pigmented lesions before they have a chance to spread to the lymph nodes and through the bloodstream. Once melanoma is disseminated, there is no good treatment for it. What disseminated means is when a cancer spreads, it deposits bits of the cancer in different organs of the body, like the liver or the brain or the bones, and that means that the liver or the brain or the bones can't work properly, and then you start getting symptoms and complaints based on those organs not working properly – and, ultimately, if those organs fail, then you will die.