May 14th is world Melanoma Day.
Are you troubled or concerned about changes in your skin, spots bumps or a mole? Its time to have it assessed.
Melanoma is a most serious type of skin cancer that develops in cells that produce melanin.
A melanoma can develop anywhere on your body. However, they typically develop in areas that have had sun exposure such as your arms, legs face and back. But they can also occur in hidden areas that don't receive much sun exposure.
In darker skin people a Melanoma is more likely to occur in a hidden area
Even though Melanomas are not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths. It can be more serious than other forms of skin cancer because it tends to spread metastases to other parts of the body. This can result in serious illness and even in death.
The exact cause of all melanomas is unclear, but there are factors that may increase your risk. These include a family history of Melanoma, fair skin, excessive ultraviolet light exposure, a weakened immune system having many moles or unusual moles.
As well, a history of sunburn and living closer to the equator or at a higher elevation are identified as reasons that put you at risk. Because where the sun's rays are more direct, a person will experience higher amounts of UV radiation.
In addition, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds increases your risk of developing melanoma. UV light doesn't cause all melanomas, especially those that occur in places on your body that is not exposed to sunlight.
There may also be other unknown factors that contribute to your risk of melanoma. The risk for melanoma seems to be increasing in people under 40 year of age especially women. Diagnosing melanoma is done by performing a biopsy.
The warning signs of melanoma are unusual skin conditions like moles, blemishes, a new spot, sores, lumps, markings or changes in an area of the skin. These skin changes may differ in size, shape, or color and the edges may be irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
Other warning signs are sores that do not heal or redness or swelling beyond the border of a mole. So too are changes on the surface of a mole such as scaly, oozing, bleeding, or lumps or bumps. There can be changes in skins sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain
It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between melanoma and an ordinary mole. Cancerous moles vary greatly in appearance and may have multiple characteristics. There are several types of melanoma.
Superficial spreading melanoma tends to account for most of all cases of melanoma. However untreated superficial spreading melanomas may become nodular and invasive.
Nodular melanoma evolve faster, are deeper, develop even on the inside of your body and is also be more likely to spread.
Lentigo maligna melanoma that looks like a large, irregularly shaped or colored freckle and develops slowly. It may take many years to evolve into a more dangerous melanoma or may never become a more invasive form.
There are also other rarer forms of melanoma that may occur. For example, under the nails, on the palms and soles oral or other mucosal areas such as the vulva or penis. Then there is metastatic melanoma
Metastatic melanoma typically has spread further than its original site in the skin to distant tissue sites. It may can spread through the lymphatic system to local lymph nodes showing up as swollen lymph glands.
It may also spread through the bloodstream where it may appear in one or more distant sites, such as the brain, liver, kidneys, lungs, bones, remote skin or any other body locations
Metastatic melanoma can display with metastases symptoms to the brain where early on it may appear as headaches. To the liver it may be identified by abnormal blood tests of liver function. A spread to the kidneys may cause blood in the urine and pain. While to the lungs it may cause continual cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, other trouble of breathing problems.
Any spread that involves the bone may cause pain or pathologic fractures such as broken bones
Most melanomas occur over time so early detection is critical. Early detection is key to positive outcomes. If a melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable. Otherwise if it is not detected early the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of your body. This makes it harder to treat with potentially fatal outcomes
Treatments for Melanoma
Melanoma is staged according to thickness, ulceration, lymph node involvement, and the presence of distant metastasis. The staging of a cancer refers to the extent to which it has spread at the time of diagnosis and possible treatment options
An early localized melanoma is treated by surgery and perhaps the removal of nearby lymph nodes Because any spread to lymph nodes or other body locations naturally worsens the forecast
For advanced disease, such as when the melanoma has spread to other parts of the body, treatments like immunotherapy or chemotherapy are sometimes recommended
You may be able to aid in preventing this condition with some self care actions. Limiting your exposure to UV radiation can help reduce your risk of melanoma.
Also avoid exposure to tanning booths. Wear hats and opaque clothing on hot days and use a broad-spectrum waterproof sunscreen to your exposed skin for protection from ultraviolet rays. Also, you are at high-risk because of a close relative who has melanoma and you should be screened.
Examine your skin regularly for new skin growths or changes in existing moles, birthmarks or bumps. Protect your skin's health and always seek timely treatment. Keep your skin healthy and looking its best.