Melanoma

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
A senior couple walks outside.
Why Yale Medicine?
  • We have specialized expertise in diagnosing melanoma.
  • We are widely recognized for our success in treating skin cancers.
  • We use advanced surgical and laser techniques that are not widely accessible.

Too much time in the sun or a tanning booth in your youth might make you worry about skin cancer, especially the most serious form called melanoma. 

It is a type of skin cancer that originates in the pigment-producing cells of the epidermis called melanocytes. Of the three most common types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most dangerous. It's much more likely than basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma to spread.  

Melanoma accounts for only one percent of skin cancer cases but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths. According to the American Cancer Society, about 76,000 new cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed this year, affecting more men than women, and it claims about 10,000 lives each year. On top of that, the rates of melanoma have been rising for at least 30 years.  

But here's the silver lining: “This serious cancer can be—and should be—diagnosed early, when it is usually completely curable,” says David J. Leffell, MD, a Yale Medicine dermatologist, who is the chief of the Dermatologic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology. He is also a professor of dermatology, plastic surgery and otolaryngology at Yale School of Medicine. 

At Yale Medicine, we are proven experts in diagnosing and treating melanoma. “Knowing more about melanoma in its earliest stage can save your life or the life of a loved one,” says Dr. Leffell.