Melanoma (Skin Cancer)
MELANOMA (SKIN CANCER)
Melanoma is a less common type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.
The basic sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole. This can occur anywhere on the body, but the back, legs, arms and face are most generally affected.
In many cases, melanomas have an uneven shape and more than one color. They may also be bigger than normal moles and can sometimes be itchy or bleed.
An "ABCDE checklist" has been created for people to tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma.
The first five letters of the alphabet are a lead to help you recognize the notice signs of melanoma.
A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. When a line is made through the lesion, the two halves don’t match and it goes off from a round to oval and symmetrical ordinary mole.
B is for Border. Melanoma borders are likely to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles are likely to have smoother, more even borders.
C is for Color. Multiple colors are warning signs. While benign moles are normally a single shade of brown, a melanoma can have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colors red, white or blue may also tend to appear.
D is for Diameter or Dark. While it’s best to detect a melanoma when it is small, it’s a warning signal if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm, or ¼ inch in diameter) or larger. Some experts say it is also essential to check for any lesion that is darker than the rest despite the size. Rare, amelanotic melanomas don’t have color.
E is for Evolving. Always check for changes in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new sign in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, as they may be warning sign of melanoma.
If you notice these warning signs, or something NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL on your skin see a dermatologist ASAP.
Types of Melanoma
Nodular melanoma is a fast-developing type of melanoma, majorly common in middle-aged people. It may not develop from an existing mole and can show in areas of skin that aren't regularly exposed to the sun.
Lentigo maligna melanoma
Lentigo maligna melanoma is very common in elderly people and those who have spent so much time outdoors. It is widespread on the face and tends to grow slowly over a number of years.
Acral lentiginous melanoma
Acral lentiginous melanoma is a rare type of melanoma that normally appears on the palms of the hands and the soles or big toe nails of the feet. This is the most common type of melanoma in persons with dark skin.
Why does Melanoma Happen?
Melanoma usually occurs when some cells in the skin stats to develop abnormally. It is thought that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from natural or artificial sources may be partially responsible.
Some factors can increase your chances of developing melanoma, which includes having:
lots of moles or freckles
pale skin that burns easily
red or blonde hair
a family member with history melanoma
See your doctor if you observe any change to your moles. Your doctor will refer you to a specialist clinic or hospital if they feel you have melanoma.
In many cases, a suspicious mole will be taken out surgically and studied to see if it is cancerous. This is known as a biopsy.
You may also have some screening to check if the melanoma has spread elsewhere in your body. This is referred to as a sentry node biopsy.
How is Melanoma treated?
The general treatment for melanoma is surgery, although your treatment will rely on what your circumstances is.
If melanoma is diagnosed and treated at an early stage, surgery is normally successful.
If melanoma isn't examined until an advanced phase, treatment will only be used to slow the spread of the cancer and reduce symptoms. This involves medicines, such as chemotherapy.
Once you have had melanoma, there is a chance it may come back. The chances are increased if your cancer was widespread and serious.
If your cancer team thinks there is a significant risk of your melanoma returning, you will probably need basic check-ups to monitor your health. You will also be shown how to check your skin and lymph nodes to assist in detectig melanoma if it returns.
Can Melanoma be prevented?
Melanoma is not really preventable, but you can reduce your risk of developing it by limiting your exposure to UV light.
You can help shield yourself from sun damage by using sunscreen and dressing wisely in the sun. Sunbeds and sunlamps ought to be avoided also.
Always checking your moles and freckles can aid lead to early diagnosis and increase your chances of successful treatment.
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