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Man Develops Rare Case of Melanoma in The Gums

Update Date: Oct 11, 2013 10:26 AM EDT

A 45-year-old man in China, whose gums turned black, is diagnosed with mucosal melanoma. Its a rare form of melanoma that happens on the skin and accounts for less than five per cent of cases.

“This is an unbelievably rare type of melanoma,” said Dr. Susan Muller, professor of head and neck surgery at Emory University, according to Fox News.

The area of the man’s gum that turned black measured 1.5 centimetres by 4 cm. Initially after the test reports, doctors not only removed the cancerous lesion, but also parts of the man’s upper jaw. The case report is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“At this point, we don’t know, first, why there are melanocytes in the mouth, and second, what makes those cells go bad and become malignant,” added Muller.

Muller with her colleagues previously looked after people with melanomas in the neck and head region. In their 20-year period, they found total of 22 people who had melanoma in the sinuses. Only eight people had melanoma in the mouth.

It is often harder to tread melanoma in sinuses, as it can be hard to notice. But in case of mouth, it can be detected early, by either patients or dentists, Muller said.

On being asked that if people should examine their mouth too along with their skin for early signs of melanoma, he replied rather calmly.

“No, there’s enough to worry about the risk of oral canceris much higher,” Muller said according to Fox News.“This case is a good reminder that melanoma could happen in the oral cavity, but it’s a very rare event.”

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