Melanoma Skin Cancer is started in the cells that produce pigments. These cells are called Melanocytes. The Melanin that is the cause of skin, eyes and hair colour is the result of these cells. According to the NCI (National Institute of Cancer), there are over 68,000 new cases and near 9,000 deaths of Melanoma Skin Cancer each year in US.
The first sign of melanoma is normally a change in shape or colour and maybe size of a currently existed mole. You should see your doctor if you see a sudden or continuous change in the shape and size or colour of a mole. Sometimes melanoma appears on your skin as a new mole.
It’s very easy to memorize what you look for. There are five parameters involved that we can refer to as “ABCDE” that are:
1. Asymmetry: when the shape of one half of the mole is not the same as the shape of the other half.
2. Border: when the pigment is spread into the nearby skin so the borders and edges are normally blurred and ragged.
3. Colour: it is normally uneven. Normally there are brown or black shades or some areas are white, gray and red or sometimes pink.
4. Diameter: the size can be very different but normally the melanomas are larger than 6 millimetres or ¼ inch.
5. Evolving: when the mole has changed during the past few weeks or months.
But have in mind that not all the melanomas show all of the above mentioned features. Sometimes the changes are only in one or two of the ABCDE.
There are some other warning signs and symptoms:
a. When you see a new bump
b. When colour is spread into the nearby skin areas
c. When you see a redness or swelling that is beyond the mole itself
d. When you feel pain
e. When you feel itching
f. When the mole bleeds
g. Sometimes oozing
h. Tenderness can be a sign as well
i. And scaly appearance
When the melanoma is more advanced, the texture of the mole may change. The skin becomes harder and the surface of the skin sometimes breaks down and scraped. Sometimes even bleeding has been reported and it may get itchy or painful.
Your doctor is definitely a person who can help you. Make sure if there is anything that bothers you, go and see your doctor.
What causes Melanoma Skin Cancer
The most dangerous cause of Melanoma Skin Cancer is the exposure to sunlight ultra violet rays. Melanocytes make more melanin under the sun light. That’s why our skin is tanned under the sun. Scientist believe that enough exposure to UV radiation can hurt the DNA in melanocytes and causes them to grow more than normal and out of control.
It’s good to know that Melanoma Skin Cancer happens more often in fair skin people than brown and black skin people. Fair or white skin people have less melanocyte cells in their skin hence more dangerous the UV ray is for them.
Doctors believe that Melanoma Skin Cancer is related not only to exposure to sun, but genetics plays a big role in this cancer. Because Melanoma Tumors can occur in the areas of the body that are not normally exposed to the sun. So people with family history of melanoma are more likely to develop the cancer. According to researches done by NCI (National Cancer Institute) One out of ten people diagnosed with melanoma have a family member who was previously diagnosed with the disease.
How to treat Melanoma Skin Cancer
Like most of the diseases and cancers, there is a good chance of good prognosis when the cancer is caught early. If the brown or black lesion has not spread beyond the skin surface, a simple surgery may be enough to cure the cancer.
But in more advanced cancer, the one that melanoma has spread to other parts of body, it is difficult to treat. According to NCI the chances of 5-year survival rate are:
1. 98% localised melanoma. 84% of melanoma cases are diagnosed at this stage
2. 62% if melanoma is spread under the skin to nearby lymph nodes
3. 16% if it spreads to distant parts of the body
In the last two cases doctors use Chemotherapy, radiation or biological therapy to treat the cancer.
How to prevent Melanoma Skin Cancer
It is not very easy to treat this cancer and it can take a lifelong, but it only takes some very simple precautions to decrease the risk.
The first and maybe the most important factor is avoiding tanning beds. Wearing sunscreens with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of above 15 is another simple step. Wearing hats, visors and tightly woven clothing is very good to block the sunlight UV ray. And the last one is staying out of the sun during 10 am and 4 pm when the sunlight is very strong and UV level is at the highest.
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