Melanoma is a cancerous disease that starts developing from the skin and then spreads to other areas of the body. Generally, a melanoma is irregular in shape and is characterized by different colored tones. Compared to a standard mole, the size is larger and the area can be itchy. At times, it may even bleed.
The most common symptom of melanoma is the formation of a new mole or modification in your old mole. These new moles can appear anywhere on your body, but mostly they develop on the back, arms, legs and face.
The general moles are of just one color and round or oval in shape. Both these characteristics are not observed in melanoma. If you know the ABCDE list, you can easily differentiate between a melanoma and a normal mole.
A is for asymmetrical Melanoma shape is always irregular.
B is for border A ragged border often surrounds a melanoma.
C is for colors Melanomas contain two or three distinguishing shades of colors.
D is for diameter The size of a melanoma is larger than a normal mole.
E is for evolution If the structure of a mole changes with time, it could possibly be a symptom of melanoma.
Causes And Risk Factors
As already mentioned, melanoma is a sort of cancer. There are no clear causes that can be associated with a cell becoming cancerous, but most likely this happens when the genes are modified or something within the cell is damaged. The cell then becomes abnormal and starts developing at a very rapid pace.
The causes of melanoma have yet to be identified properly; it is probably because of sun damage. Sunlight contains ultraviolet radiations that damage your genes and destroys your cells, which lead to melanoma and other skin cancers. Melanoma accounts for less than five percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.Of the seven most common cancers in the U.S., melanoma is the only one whose incidence is increasing. Between 2000 and 2009, incidence climbed 1.9 percent annually.
If your color is fair, the chances of melanoma development are higher because light colored skin has reduced quantities of melamine, which can protect against UV radiation. Dark colored skin has this pigment in more amounts and so fewer cases of melanoma have been observed.
There are other factors as well that can cause melanoma or worsen the symptoms. These include a family history of the disease, increased number of moles and a weak immune system.
The main option for treating melanoma is surgery, but there will be variations depending on your condition and the disease stage. If you have melanoma, it would not be just one doctor who would examine you, but a complete team. This would include a dermatologist, a plastic surgeon, a clinical and medical oncologist, and a nurse. A pathologist and radiologist may also be part of the team. Combined, the team is regarded as MDT or a multidisciplinary team who aim at providing you the best possible treatment and care.
Before a treatment plan is formulated, various factors are considered such as the cancer type, cancer stage and your health. Accordingly, numerous options would be recommended and you can choose the most suitable and affordable one.
If your melanoma is of the thin type, you may be advised a biopsy, an excision or an operation that removes the tumor. This would eliminate cancerous cells from your body. If your melanoma has progressed deeper into your body, a more complicated surgery would have to be conducted and your lymphatic nodes might also be removed.
Whichever treatment option is chosen, it is almost always accompanied with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In the former, anti-medications are used that stop the cancerous cells from developing and kill the existing ones. In radiotherapy, a high-energy beam of radiation is directed on the affected site, which kills the cancerous cells. In some cases, immunotherapy may also be recommended so as to improve functioning of the immune system and make it more effective in fighting off the cancerous cells.
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