Behzad Parva, MD, Plastic Surgeon
(703) 777-7477

Malignant Melanoma

Malignant Melanomas are by far the most worrisome skin cancer. They can occur anywhere on the skin and can spread to other body parts and vital organs. In its advanced stages, it can cause serious illness and can be fatal.

Melanoma originates in melanocytes, which are skin cells which produce the pigment melanin that colors our skin. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white.

Anyone can develop a melanoma, but several factors increase risk: sun exposure, number of moles on the skin, skin type and family history (genetics).

Heredity is a major factor in melanoma so it is critical to be proactive in watching for early signs in yourself and your children, especially if a first-degree relative has had melanoma. Additionally, once you have had melanoma, you run an increased chance of recurrence.

Look for the ABCDE signs of melanoma:


Borders that are uneven

Color (different shades of brown, tan or black)

Diameter that is often larger than the end of a pencil eraser

Evolving (changes in size, elevation, diameter, crusting, bleeding).

If you see one or more of these signs, make an appointment with a physician immediately.