Cancer is a life threatening disease and leading cause of death in the whole world. There are many type of cancer depends on the site of spread, melanoma is one of them.
Melanoma is cancer of skin. Although melanoma is not very common but this one is the most serious kind of cancer as it may often spreads. The person having melanoma is very difficult to treat and result also may be come out poor.
Having fair skin, overexposure to the sun and family history are some common risk factors of melanoma.
Melanoma can be prompted by receiving an early diagnosis and getting a proper treatment and health may be improved.
To prevent melanoma a person should track down the skin condition, any change or growing of the moles and adequate protection against sun exposure may help you to prevent melanoma.
Taking to the melanoma, this article includes everything you should know about melanoma such as symptoms, diagnosis etc.
Melanoma is serious medical condition of skin that comes in existence when melanocytes a kind of cells producing pigment, starts mutate and continue diving uncontrollably.
Person having a family risk history of having melanoma is most likely to develop this condition.
Most of the melanocytes developed in the skin. Melanoma is not developed anywhere in the skin, but some areas are more prone to develop this situation. Melanoma is most likely to affect chest and back areas in men while in women, most common site are the legs. However melanoma can be seen in eyes and other parts of the body but face is the most common site.
You will be surprised to know that melanoma can also affect intestines in very rare cases and darker people are rarely like to develop melanoma.
Stages of melanoma
Melanoma defined in the five stages of the cancer from 0 to 4. The various stages of cancer at diagnosis indicate that what extent it spreads and what treatment will be suitable to treat that stage.
The various stages of melanoma are as follows:
- Stage 0 is the primary stage of melanoma in which cancer is present in the outermost layer of the skin ad referred as “melanoma in situ” by doctors.
- Stage 1 which is secondary has the cancer up to 2 millimeters (mm) thick but not spread to lymph nodes or other sites.
- Stage 2 is at least 1 mm and thicker than 4 mm and may be ulcerated or not but not spread to lymph nodes or any other sides.
- In Stage 3 of melanoma cancer spread out to the lymph nodes it could be a single or more than one and lymphatic channels. There is no visibility of original cancer but if it is found as visible as it could be thicker than 4 mm and ulcerated.
- Stage 4 is the last state of cancer and has already spread to distant lymph nodes or organs like brain, liver or lungs.
Types of melanoma
Superficial spreading melanoma
As the name indicate this type of melanoma spread across the surface of the skin and appears often on the limbs or trunks.
The second most common type of melanoma is nodular melanoma tends to appear on the head, neck or trunk. In appearance it looks as reddish or blue-black color and happens to spread quicker than others.
Lentigo maligna melanoma
This type of melanoma is less common and seems to develop in older adults. On appearance this melanoma looks like a stain on the surface of the skin and slowly grows but less dangerous than other melanoma.
Acral lentiginous melanoma
Acral lentiginous melanoma usually found on the palms of the hands, soles of feet and nails. This one is the rarest kind of melanoma and tends to be found in the darker skin type people since they typically do not get other kind of melanoma.
Various Risk factors
Although many Researches are ongoing there are some risk factors which is responsible for the skin cancer.
- A person with family history is more prone to develop melanoma.
- High number and density of freckles or development of the freckles on exposure of sunlight.
- Presence of actinic lentigines on skin surface. They are also called as liver spot or age spot.
- five or more atypical moles
- Occurrence of congenital melanocytic nevi.
- When a person has a pale skin and his skin get easily sunburn.
- People having light colored eye and red hair also have odds of developing melanoma
- If a person get blistering sunburn on sun exposure either regular sun exposure or more intermittent rather than regular may have the risk of melanoma.
Although it is very difficult to detect melanoma in early stage but it is very necessary to check for having any signs of change in the skin.
These changes can be detected by observing the alterations in the skin appearance that are vital indication of the melanoma.
Some pictures of melanomas and normal moles have offered by the various melanoma research foundations so that normal people can easily differentiate them.
There are some other symptoms are listed below.
- any skin changes, such as a new spot or mole or a change in the color, shape, or size of an existing spot or mole
- If a person’s skin fails to heal skin sore.
- If any spot or sore on the skin becomes itchy, painful, tender or starts to bleed that you should go to doctor.
- Another symptom of melanoma may be a spot or lump that looks shiny, waxy, smooth, or pale.
- Red lump that bleeds or looks crusty is one of the symptoms of melanoma.
ABCDE examination of moles
In order to reveal the potential cancerous lesions, The ABCDE examination is important. ABCDE refers the five characteristics that can help a person to identify the melanoma.
- A stands for the asymmetric
- B refers Border of the mole- irregular raged, notched or blurred in appearance.
- Color- color of mole could be black, brown, tan or it could be white or blue in color.
- Diameter- in case of melanoma size of a mole can be changed.
- Evolving- alteration in appearance of mole can be a sign of skin cancer.
Normal people can easily observe the early signs of the melanoma on their own. You can examine the changes in the skin such as change in color, shape and texture of existing mole.
If it’s harder to observe the mole due to presence in area hard to see than just take help from your friend, partner or family member or doctor.
If you notice any change in appearance in the skin than you should go to doctor for further examination.
Doctors diagnose the skin cancer by using microscopic or photographic tools. After that if they find any suspicion of having melanoma than they proceed for dermatological biopsy of the lesion to confirm the cancer.
Melanoma is one of the severe types of cancer and treatment of melanoma is similar to the treatment of other cancers. Melanoma is different than other cancer as it is easier to access the site of cancer and cancerous tissue can be easily removed so surgery is the best treatment option for the melanoma.
In case of melanoma surgical process include the removal of the lesion and surrounding tissues. The extent of the cancer spread on the skin determined by the pathological examination of the removed lesion to ensure that all cancerous cells have been removed completely.
A skin graft may be necessary in case of melanoma where a large area of skin affected. They also request to lymph node biopsy if cancer spread to the lymph and in case of later stages of melanoma radiation therapy may recommended to the person.
In some cases it has been seen that Melanoma may affect to organs other than skin, then doctors may recommend different advance treatment required to target the affected organs. These treatments may include:
- Chemotherapy is most widely recommended treatment in which doctor use medication to target cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy is another advance therapy with the aim of targeting the particular genes or protein expressions responsible for cancer.
- Immunotherapy as the name indicate it works on enhancing the immunity of the patient by using prescribed drugs by doctors so that immune system can fight back to the cancer.
Although it is quite difficult to avoid exposure of UV radiation as this is the primary risk factor to develop the melanoma, avoiding excessive UV exposure can reduce the risk of skin cancer.
To prevent melanoma make sure to use sunscreen with the SPF of 30 most preferably contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide by applying it before half hour f going outside.
Make sure to avoid the highest intensity hours to prevent melanoma.
So if you notice unusual moles or any changes in the structure of skin just go to your Doctor.