Skin Cancer – Melanoma

 Melanoma Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Signs

Melanoma is less common, but more serious than other types of skin cancer. Melanomas are usually brown or black, but can appear pink, tan, or even white. Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes. Because most melanoma cells still make melanin, melanoma tumors are usually brown or black. But some melanomas do not make melanin and can appear pink, tan, or even white. Caught early, most melanomas can be cured with relatively minor surgery. Most melanomas occur on the skin where they can be seen, patients themselves are often the first to detect many melanomas.

Location of Melanoma Skin Cancer

Melanomas can occur anywhere on the skin, but they are more likely to start in certain locations. The trunk (chest and back) is the most common site in men. The legs are the most common site in women. The neck and face are other common sites. Having darkly pigmented skin lowers your risk of melanoma at these more common sites, but anyone can develop this cancer on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and under the nails. Melanomas can also form in other parts of your body such as the eyes, mouth, genitals and anal area, but these are much less common than melanoma of the skin.

Melanoma Skin Cancer Signs and Symptoms 

The most important warning sign for melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color. Another important sign is a spot that looks different from all of the other spots on your skin. These melanomas look different,  they are “ugly ducklings” as  compared to surrounding moles.

  1. Asymmetry (A): One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  2. Border (B): The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  3. Color(C): The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  4. Diameter(D): The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  5. Evolving(E): The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Risk Factors Melanoma Skin Cancer

  1. Ultraviolet (UV) Light Exposure. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is a major risk factor for most melanomas. Sunlight is the main source of UV rays. Tanning lamps and beds are also sources of UV rays. People who get a lot of UV exposure from these sources are at greater risk for skin cancer, including
  2. Moles. A nevus (mole) is a benign (non-cancerous) pigmented tumor. Moles are not usually present at birth but begin to appear in children and young adults. Most moles will never cause any problems, but a person who has many moles is more likely to develop melanoma
  3. Fair Skin, Freckling, and Light Hair. The risk of melanoma is more than 10 times higher for whites than for African Americans. Whites with red or blond hair, blue or green eyes, or fair skin that freckles or burns easily are at increased risk.
  4. Family History of Melanoma. Risk of melanoma is greater if one or more first-degree relatives (parent, brother, sister, or child) has had melanoma. Around 10% of all people with melanoma have a family history of the disease.
  5. Immune Suppression. People who have weakened immune systems or who are being treated with medicines that severely suppress the immune system, such as organ transplant patients, have an increased risk of melanoma.
  6. Gender. Men have a higher rate of melanoma than women.
  7. Age. Melanoma is more likely to occur in older people

Prevention of Melanoma Skin Cancer

  1. Limiting Ultraviolet (UV) Exposure. The most important way to lower your risk of melanoma is to protect yourself from exposure to UV rays. Practice sun safety when you are outdoors. Simply staying in the shade is one of the best ways to limit your UV exposure. Slip on a shirt, use sunscreen, Slap on a hat and Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and sensitive skin around them
  2. Avoid Tanning Beds And Sunlamps. Many people believe the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless. This is not true. Tanning lamps give out UVA and usually UVB rays as well, both of which can cause long-term skin damage and can contribute to skin cancer.

Treatment of Melanoma Skin Cancer

Based on the stage of the cancer and other factors, your treatment options may include:

  • Surgery
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

Early-stage melanomas can often be treated effectively with surgery alone, but more advanced cancers often require other treatments. Sometimes more than one type of treatment is also used.

Melanoma Skin Cancer Survival Rates

Estimated New Cases in 2014 76100
% of All New Cancer Cases 4.6%
Estimated Deaths in 2014 9710
% of All Cancer Deaths 1.7%
Percent Surviving 5 Years (2004-2010) 91.3%

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