doctor examining skin

Have you run across the term “benign melanoma” or “non-malignant melanoma” in any of your online reading?

Maybe this has got you wondering if melanoma can ever be benign.

By definition, melanoma is cancer. “Mela” refers to pigment-producing cells (melanocytes), and “oma” refers to mass or concentration.

As far as the prefix and suffix, it would seem that “melanoma” literally means a mere mass of pigment-producing cells. But a mass isn’t always malignant.

First of all, a benign mass (concentration or clustering) of pigment-producing cells or melanocytes is known as a nevus (knee-vus). The layman’s term for this is “mole.”

A malignant mass of melanocytes – cells growing wildly out of control – is called melanoma.

There is no such thing as benign melanoma.

There is a website that makes a reference to “non-malignant melanoma.”

When I began reading what “non-malignant melanoma” actually is, it turns out that the author of the post was referring to non-melanoma malignancies of the skin.

This was an erroneous use of words that, though they may sound to some people as though they refer to the same condition, they do have different meanings.

“Non-malignant melanoma” is another way of saying “benign melanoma.” And of course, as you’ve already read here, there is no such thing.

However, non-melanoma malignancy means a cancer that is not the melanoma type. In the case of the particular post, the author was referring to basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma – two non-melanoma skin cancers.

Sources
genesiscare.co.uk/non-malignant-melanoma-skin-cancer calls non-melanoma 
cancer.gov/types/skin/moles-fact-sheet#q1