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Melanoma: Treatment, Causes, Types, Early Signs & Symptoms

Melanoma: Treatment, Causes, Types, Early Signs & Symptoms

melanoma

Overview

Melanoma is considered one of the most serious types of skin cancer and it will affect the melanocytes that can produce melanin. It is not common cancer to the people but it will be difficult to manage this condition once it is affected by a person. The following are the risk factors of this condition. These risk factors include

It will be easy for a person to manage this condition if he or she recognizes the condition early and consult their primary care provider. The main cause of this cancer is still not known and researchers saying that the overexposure to ultraviolet radiation can increases your risk of getting diagnosed with this type of cancer.

This risk of getting diagnosed with this cancer increases to the people as they grow older, and most women are affected by this condition.

What are the indicators of melanoma?

This condition can affect anywhere on your body. Melanomas occur in the areas where there is too much sun exposure to the skin. Malignant melanoma or cutaneous melanoma are the other names of this cancer.

Itchiness or bleeding to the existing mole, irregular shape, changes in size, changes in shape, changes in color, irregular border, larger than a quarter of an inch, and multi-colored or uneven colouring are considered as the clues that a mole might be the skin cancer of melanoma.

Face, chest, back, neck, and legs are the areas that melanoma can occur. These areas are the most affected by the sun and you often expose these areas to the sun.

What are the causes of this skin cancer?

When something goes wrong in the melanocytes (cells that can produce melanin), then the people have a higher risk of developing this type of cancer. Generally, the skin cells grow in a controlled and in an orderly manner like when a new healthy new cell forms it will kill the older cell that is causing damage to the skin. But there are chances of some cells can develop DNA damage, and these cells can lead to the formation of the deadly cells.

Sill, it is unknown to the experts what is causing the damages in DNA and how it is leading to the formation of this cancer. Genetic and environmental factors are also contributing to the cause of melanoma cancer. The other cause is an exposure of ultraviolet radiation to the body also can lead to this cancer.

What are the risk factors of melanoma cancer?

The main cause of melanoma is still unknown to the experts but there are risk factors that can contribute to the cause of this type of cancer in some people.

Growing older or age, high density of freckles, family history of this type of cancer, having moles in a larger number, previous history of organ transplantation, five or more atypical moles, people who are experiencing high sun exposure to their body, liver spots or age spots or the presence of actinic lentigines, hair color turning into light or red, giant congenital melanocytic nevi, light eyes, and pale skin that tends to burn are considered as the risk factors of this type of cancer.

What are the stages of this cancer?

As per medical health professionals, the stages of this cancer are categorized into five types. These types include

  • Stage 0
  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2
  • Stage 3
  • Stage 4

When the cancer is still in the outermost layer of skin is considered as stage 0 and the other name of this stage is “melanoma in situ”.

When there is a two mm thick mole formed in your skin and the cancer cells not yet reached to the lymph nodes is considered as the first stage of this type of cancer or stage 1.

When the cancer is four mm thick and not yet reached to the lymph nodes or other sites is considered as the second stage of this type of cancer or stage 2.

When the cancer cells are finally reached to the lymph nodes and thicker than four millimeters is considered as the third stage of this type of cancer or stage 3.

When the cancer is affected the distant lymph nodes and organs like the brain, lungs, or liver are considered as the final stage of this type of cancer or stage 4.

It will be difficult for a doctor to treat the condition to the patients whose cancer is reached to stage 4.

What are the types of melanoma cancer?

As per health professionals, melanoma is classified into 4 types. These types include

  • Superficial spreading melanoma
  • Nodular melanoma
  • Lentigo maligna melanoma
  • Acral lentiginous melanoma

Superficial spreading melanoma

This type of cancer mostly occurs on the trunk or limbs and it is the most common type that people often experience. First, the cancer cells grow slowly and spread across the surface of the skin.

Nodular melanoma

People who are experiencing nodular melanoma have its effects on the trunk, head, or neck. It will grow rapidly when compared to superficial spreading melanoma and it is in blue-black.

Lentigo maligna melanoma

People experience this type of cancer very rarely and people who are older are more likely to develop this condition. This type of cancer appears on the body parts that had high sun exposure. It grows very slowly and not a dangerous type of cancer when compared to superficial spreading melanoma and nodular melanoma.

Acral lentiginous melanoma

When a person experiences this rarest type of cancer, the following are the places of the human body that are most affected. These places include

  • Palms of the hands
  • Soles of the feet
  • Under the nails

People who are dark color are less likely to develop melanoma cancer and they should be cautious about this type as it can affect their skin.

Have a word with a Physician

It is better to consult a healthcare provider or a medical professional immediately when they are experiencing the symptoms of this type of cancer or diagnosed with one of the types of melanoma.

How to diagnose this condition?

In order to diagnose this condition, your physician determines the thickness of the melanoma or sent a tissue of the affected person for testing. The following are the tests are conducted by the physician to the people who are showing the symptoms of melanoma or experiencing the symptoms of this condition. These tests include

  • Physical examination
  • Biopsy

Physical Examination

Your physician may ask a lot of questions related to the symptoms you are experiencing and also ask about a personal family medical history and have a deep look into your skin to find out the signs that can help the diagnosis of this condition.

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Biopsy

If the physician suspects that the layer of your skin is indicating the signs of this type of cancer then your physician will remove the skin and sent it to the laboratory for testing. Punch biopsy and excisional biopsy are the two procedures that your physician uses to remove the skin which is having a mole that is suspicious.

Sentinel node biopsy is another technique used by the doctors to check whether cancer has reached the lymph nodes and other organs. X-rays computed tomography, and positron emission tomography may also provide the necessary information about the melanoma to the doctors.

What are the various treatment options available for melanoma?

If the melanoma cancer has reached the fourth stage or stage 4 and reached to most of the lymph nodes or organs like the brain, liver, or lungs then the physician may recommend the following procedures and therapies to manage the condition. These procedures include

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

Let’s discuss the above treatment options in detail.

Surgery

When the melanoma spreads to the lymph nodes, then the physician or the surgeon may perform surgery to remove the affected nodes.

Immunotherapy

Your physician may recommend some medications or drugs to the affected person to improve the functions of the immune system to fight cancer. This therapy is recommended by the physician to the patient after performing the surgery. When medical professionals are unable to remove the melanoma through surgery, then the surgeon may inject immunotherapy directly into the melanoma.

Targeted therapy

This therapy works based on the weaknesses of the cancer cells. Your physician will find the weaknesses and target it with the drug treatment and the cancer cells die eventually. Before doing it, your physician may test the cancer cells and also check whether the targeted therapy can work or not against the cancer cells. When the lymph nodes affected by the cancer cells, then the targeted drug treatment most likely to work.

Radiation therapy

In order to kill the cancer cells, your physician might use high-powered energy beams. This therapy also recommended only when the cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes and this therapy can give relief from the symptoms of melanoma cancer when the cancer cells have reached other parts of the body to the people.

Chemotherapy

In this therapy, you will be asked to take drugs to kill the melanoma and this therapy can either be in the form of a pill or both. These drugs can also be given injected directly into your arms or legs through your veins and it travels throughout the body. It is advisable to not moving your arms or legs as it can stop the chemotherapy drug flow to the area around the melanoma.

Conclusion

Melanoma is deadly cancer and can make a person look worse. Recognizing the lesion early and consulting the healthcare provider or a doctor is necessary to prevent the condition. A doctor can stop the spreading of these cancer cells to the other areas of the body. Due to this reason, it is advised to have a word with the physician when experiencing the symptoms of this type of cancer.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22469345
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538462/
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