May 14th is World Melanoma Day. And May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month
Are you troubled or concerned about changes in your skin, spots, bumps, a sore, or a mole? It is time to have it assessed.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in cells that produce melanin. The result is a chronic disease and even death.
Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body. However, Melanoma typically happens in areas exposed to the sun. Your arms, legs, face, and back are at higher risk.
This condition can also occur in hidden areas that do not receive much sun exposure. In darker skin, a Melanoma is more likely to be in a non-visible body part.
Even though Melanomas are not the most common of skin cancers, they cause the most deaths. More than other forms of skin cancer, Melanomas spread metastases to other parts of the body.
The exact cause of all Melanomas is unclear, but some factors may increase your risk. These include.
- A family history of the disease.
- Fair complexion skin.
- Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light.
- The weakened immune system.
- Having many or unusual moles.
- Having a history of sunburn.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning lamps and beds increases your risk of developing melanoma. If you live closer to the equator, the sun's rays elicit higher and more direct amounts of UV radiation.
Other currently unknown factors can also contribute to your risk of melanoma. The condition is increasing in persons under age 40 years. Predominantly it is affecting women.
Melanoma Impact on the Body:
The early warning signs of melanoma are changes in an area of the skin.
Skin changes may differ in size, shape, or color. Or the surface of a mole, lump, or bump is scaly, oozing, bleeding. The alterations may be irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
Other warning signs are moles with redness and swelling beyond the border of the mole. Also, blemishes, spots, lumps, or sores do not heal.
There can be changes in skin sensitivity, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain.
Types of Melanoma:
There are various types of melanoma, Superficial spreading melanoma, lentigo melanoma, nodular melanoma and more
The most common types of melanoma are superficial and nodular.
Superficial spreading melanoma tends to account for most of all cases of melanoma. It is a form of melanoma in which the malignant cells tend to stay within the tissue of origin. Untreated superficial spreading melanomas may become nodular and invasive.
Nodular melanoma evolves faster and is deep-seated, and is more likely to spread rapidly. Nodular melanoma is the most aggressive form. It often presents as an expanding darkly pigmented cutaneous nodular lesion. Eventually, it metastasizes to vital organs and may be fatal within months of being diagnosed.
The less common is Lentigo melanoma. A Lentigo malignant melanoma is large and irregular shaped. Usually, a colored freckle grows slowly. It may take many years to evolve into a threatening condition. Or it may never become a more invasive form.
Lentigo melanoma most often develops in older persons on the face, ears, and arms. It usually grows outward across the skin's surface for many years before it starts to grow down into the skin.
This type tends to grow, get darker, producing many shades of brown or black.
Other rarer forms of melanoma may occur:
- Under the nails, on the palms, soles of feet, or oral.
- On mucosal areas such as the vulva or penis.
Metastatic melanoma typically spreads beyond its original site in the skin to other tissue sites. It spread through the lymphatic system and the blood. It may appear in one or more body locations, such as the brain, liver, kidneys, lungs, or bones. Metastatic melanoma displays metastases symptoms.
- To the brain, where early on it may appear as headaches.
- To the liver, it may show up by abnormal blood tests of liver function.
- To the kidneys may cause blood in the urine and pain.
- To the lungs, it may cause continual cough, chest pain, shortness of breath.
- To the bone may cause pain or pathological fractures such as broken bones.
- To local lymph nodes showing up as swollen lymph glands.
Most melanomas occur over time making, early detection critical. Early detection is key to positive outcomes. If a melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable. If it is not detected early, it can advance and spread to other parts of your body.
The later it is detected becomes harder to treat with potentially fatal outcomes.
Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a Melanoma and an ordinary mole. Cancerous moles vary in appearance and may have multiple similar characteristics. Diagnosing melanoma is done by performing a biopsy.
Treatments for Melanoma:
- A Melanoma diagnosis is assigned stages according to thickness, ulceration, lymph node involvement, and the presence of distant metastasis.
- The staging of cancer refers to the extent to which it has spread at diagnosis and possible treatment options.
- An early localized melanoma is dealt with by surgery. The excision of nearby lymph nodes is an option when warranted.
When the melanoma has spread to other parts of the body, additional treatments are immunotherapy or chemotherapy.
Reducing Risks of Melanoma:
Several self-care actions are helpful to aid in preventing this condition.
- Limiting your exposure to UV radiation can help reduce your risk of melanoma.
- Avoid exposure to tanning booths.
- Wear hats and opaque clothing on hot days.
- Use a broad-spectrum waterproof sunscreen on exposed skin for protection from ultraviolet rays.
- Get screened. You are at high risk if a close relative has melanoma.
- Examine your skin regularly. Look 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.