Melanoma – Treating the Most Dangerous Form of Skin Cancer
Melanoma is a malignant tumor located on the skin. It is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and can lead to death if left untreated.
Mutation of the melanocytes – cells producing skin and hair pigments known as melanin – creates cancerous melanoma. Tumors appear on the skin as moles with dark pigmentation. Appearances in other areas are uncommon, but can occur in the eyes, mouth, esophagus, small intestine, anus and urinary tract. Later stages of melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes and vital organs.
Causes and Symptoms of Melanoma
Melanoma is more commonly found in the elderly, but the number of young adults with skin cancer is still high. Tanning outside or using tanning beds increases one’s chances of skin cancer. Overexposure to the sun damages skin cells and increases the risk of mutation. Using oils to get a better tan causes greater harm to the skin. Sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and protection against UVB and UVA rays will prevent skin damage and the development of melanoma.
People with fair skin and light pigmentation of the eyes are at an increased risk for skin cancer. The greatest risk of skin damage is during the beginning of summer. Higher altitudes increase exposure to the sun.
Abnormal moles can be cancerous or can develop into melanoma. Any strangemoles can be removed by dermatologists. Suspicious moles appear asymmetrical with irregular borders and discoloration. If moles are splotchy or multicolored with varying shades of browns, blacks or reds, they could be cancerous. Tumors often bleed and change in size, shape and elevation. Examine new moles on the body and moles that bleed or grow. Melanoma can be diagnosed by a dermatologist.
Melanoma can induce symptoms of nausea, fatigue and pain.
Types of Melanomna
- Acrallentiginous melanoma is the least common type of melanoma, and is more prevalent in African Americans. This form of melanoma is most often found on people’s palms, soles of their feet or under their nails.
- Lentigomaligna melanoma is usually affiliated with the elderly. This form of skin cancer is most often found in sun-damaged skin on the face, neck and arms. The affected skin is usually large, flat, and tan with areas of brown.
- Nodular melanoma is the second most common form of melanoma, and is usually a blackish-blue or bluish-red lesion. Not all forms of Nodular melanoma have color.
- Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type. Most commonly found in Caucasians, it is usually flat and is irregular in shape and color with shades of black and brown.
Melanoma Skin Cancer Treatment Options
When melanoma is caught in the early stages of development, it can almost always be cured. As it spreads to the lymph nodes, however, it becomes increasingly difficult. Surgery is performed to remove cancerous lymph nodes and organ cells.
Mohs micrographic surgery involves the controlled removal of cancerous tissue depending on how deeply the tumor is embedded in the skin. The procedure has a high success rate because it’s precise in locating and removing cancerous cells. Tissue is examined by freezing and microscopic inspection. If it is cancerous, a scalpel is used to cut out the area. Since the procedure is so accurate, healthy tissue is left unscathed.
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