Melanoma

1 What is Melanoma?

Melanoma also known as malignant melanoma is a fatal type of cancer that develops from the pigments containing cells which are melanocytes.

It produces melanin which gives color to your skin. It occurs in the skin but sometimes in can also occur in your mouth.

It can also occur in your eyes, back and legs. Often times they occur in your mole.

There are no known causes of melanoma but experts say that if you are exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the tanning lamps and beds or sunlight, you will likely have this disease. You should not expose yourself to too much ultraviolet radiation so you will not have melanoma.

This disease is increasing in women especially when they are less than 40 years of age. You should be aware of the symptoms and signs of melanoma so you can have treatment as soon as possible.

MelanomaLookLike

2 Symptoms

Melanoma symptoms may appear in many forms on the skin. It is important to check in with your dermatologist regularly.

Malignant melanoma can occur anywhere in your body but mostly on the surfaces of your skin that have a lot of exposure to the ultraviolet radiation or sunlight such as the arms and legs, face and back or nape.

There are also hidden melanomas usually from people who have darker skins and can develop in areas such as palms of your hands, fingernail beds, and soles of your feet.

Melanoma does not always start as a mole, but a change in an existing mole which develops a new unusual looking growth in your skin can be the first sign that you have melanoma.

If you have a black, brown or tan mole, it is called normal mole. Normal moles are round and mostly smaller like around ¼ inch (6 millimeters) in diameter.

A lot of people have more than 10 moles all over their body that occurs around when you are 50 years of age. Other moles may grow but some may disappear while growing up.

3 Causes

There are no known causes of melanoma.

Malignant melanoma may develop when there is something wrong with the melanocytes.

New cells may begin to grow out of control and can eventually form a mass of cancerous cells if DNA damage develops in some of the cells.

Experts say that a combination of genetic and environmental factors might be one of the reasons melanoma, but the biggest factor is the exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

4 Making a Diagnosis

If you are suspecting that you have melanoma go and see a doctor to receive a diagnosis. You can ask a family member of a friend to accompany you.

You may ask the doctor questions such as:

  • What are the symptoms that you are experiencing?
  • For how long are you experiencing this signs and symptoms?
  • Does anyone in your family have this?
  • What vitamins, supplements, and medications are you taking every day? 

You may also ask the doctor such as:

  • Do I have a melanoma?
  • How severe is my melanoma?
  • Is it going to spread all throughout my skin?
  • What laboratory tests or exams I need to take?
  • Are there treatments?
  • What kind of treatments?
  • What kind of medications?
  • What will be the side effects of these treatments?
  • Can it be cured totally?
  • Should I see a specialist? 

Most likely you will be referred to a dermatologist that specializes in skin diseases or an oncologist that specializes in cancer treatments. Ask your doctor if you need periodic screening.

Melanoma Cancer

5 Treatment

Treatments for melanoma includes:

  • Surgery: they will get a small melanoma during biopsy or cancer itself will be removed entirely so that the affected lymph nodes may also be removed.
  • Chemotherapy which uses drugs to destroy cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy that uses high-powered beams to kill cancer cells and it may also be used to relieve signs of melanoma.
  • Biological therapy to help your body fight cancer because biological therapy boosts your immune system.
  • Targeted therapy that allows you to use medicines for the cancer cells. The side effects include fever, dizziness, fatigue, chills with flu, muscle, and headaches.

6 Prevention

To prevent having melanoma by avoiding the sun especially between 10 am – 4 pm, you can schedule outdoor activities during after 4pm or before 10 am.

Avoiding the sun also prevents you from having sunburns and suntans that cause different kinds of skin disease and increase the risk of you having skin cancer.

Avoid tanning beds and lamps too. Wear sunscreen every day with an SPF of 15 for sun protection.

A water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Protect your skin with clothes or use caps and sun visors and hats.

You can also use sunglasses for your eyes. Examine your skin regularly.

7 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to prevent having melanoma.

The sunlight can harm your skin. If you are going out make sure that your skin is protected.

Apply sunscreen to your skin with an SPF of at least 15. Wear protective clothing, cover your skin with dark clothing that covers your entire arms and legs.

Wear caps and sun visors and hats. Use an umbrella so that your entire body will be covered from the sunlight.

Also, use sunglasses for your eyes. If you feel that you cannot take the heat outside, might as well stay indoors.

Do not go often to tanning salons. Bring water so that when you will not be dehydrated.

8 Risks and Complications

Some factors that may increase the risk of melanoma:

  • if you have a history of sunburn, moderate or severe sunburn
  • fair skin because the fair skin has less melanin meaningless protection from ultraviolet radiation
  • if you are living at a higher elevation or near the equator because the sun’s rays are more directed towards that area
  • if you have a lot of moles
  • excessive ultraviolet radiation which comes from tanning beds and lamps
  • a history of melanoma in your family and weakened the immune system.
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