Although melanoma is usually skin cancer (although not always), it begins in the melanocytes (the cells that produce the melanin pigment [skin, hair, and eye color]) which are also responsible for forming moles. However, most moles never become cancerous; although, they ARE actually a risk factor for cancer.
Melanoma can be broken down into three categories:
1. Cutaneous Melanoma (of the skin) – is where most pigment cells are found to be present in the skin, and is considered the most common of the three types. However, it can be further broken down into four more groups: superficial spreading, nodular, acral lentiginous, and lentigo melanoma.
2. Mucosal Melanoma – is the second type that affects any of the body’s mucous membranes, including: the nasal passages, throat, vagina, anus, and the mouth.
3. Ocular Melanoma (uveal/choroidal melanoma) – is the third type, and considered the most rare of the three (occurring in the eyes only).
However, nodular melanoma (although one of the most common), is the most aggressive form of all. It is able to grow in a matter of months (even weeks), as its metastasis (spread) grows vertically over the skin in the form of small black, or pink (if amelanotic [showing no dark pigment at an early stage]) malignant (cancerous [tumor]) nodules that tend to bleed as they enlarge.
Other symptoms may include: dome-shaped bumps (black, brown, red, or blue), shiny, scaly, or oozing bumps, and tender, itchy swellings that have the tendency to bleed (all indicate the possibility of the presence of a tumor).
Causes of nodular melanoma – are usually over exposure to sunlight radiation; however, exceptions may include the vulva and the sole of the foot where sun radiation does not affect, although nodules may still appear.
Diagnosis of nodular melanoma – is usually through inspection, followed by biopsy (a sample of tissue is taken for analysis under the microscope).
Treatment for nodular melanoma – may depend mainly upon whether there are any other regions of the body affected. However, treatment usually consists of the following: surgical removal (excisional biopsy, wide local excision, and possibly sentinel node biopsy), chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
The prognosis (life-expectancy) – of a sufferer really depends on whether early detection of any nodules was the case or not, as where lesions are found to be more than 3mm deep (at an advanced stage), the out-look is generally poor. However, early removal of the nodules is not always the only solution, as secondary life-threatening conditions (symptoms or disorders) may already be prevalent.
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