Melanoma skin cancer

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that starts in the pigments of the skin. Inside our skin we have cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that produce pigment. Exposure to the sun causes these melanocytes to produce more pigment which is what causes our skin to darken and tan. Our skin is our body’s largest organ and it is there to protect the inside of our bodies from all sorts of ailments. There are two layers that make up the skin. The outer layer is the epidermis and the inner layer is the dermis. Clusters of melanocytes are called moles. These are typically noncancerous growths on the outer layer of the skin. They are extremely common. Most people have at least a few moles located on their body and they can vary in color and shape.

When melanoma begins it means that cancerous cells are forming in the skin. Usually the first sign is found in an existing mole. Melanoma will cause the mole to change in color, shape or texture. Blue and black colors are often found in moles that have melanoma. It is also possible for melanoma to surface on its own outside of an existing mole. Melanoma can create a new mole that is bluish or blackish and quite ugly.

There are other signs you can look for if you think you may have melanoma as well. Look at the shape of the mole. If the mole is not symmetrical and one side is different looking than the other then that can be a sign. Also look at the border of the mole. Melanoma can often make moles appear irregular, ragged or blurred into the surrounding skin. Other colors can be present such as, white, red, pink or grey, including blue, black and brown. Another thing to look for is the size of the mole. If melanoma is present the size of the mole can increase. Usually they are at least a ¼ inch in size.

Not everyone will have the same signs of Melanoma. Everyone’s skin is different and the way the melanoma presents itself cannot be compared to another person’s case. If you think you may have melanoma you need to see you doctor as soon as possible to be diagnosed. The sooner melanoma is found the better the success in treating the cancer. If the melanoma is not diagnosed and treated in the beginning stages the cancerous cells can grow down deep into the skin and infect the healthy tissue below. After the cancer gets to this point it can invade other parts of the body and can become hard to treat.

Once you have had melanoma you will always have a higher risk of developing it again. This makes it very important to have your skin looked at regularly by a physician.

If your melanoma is in the very beginning stages, your doctor may be able to remove it easily with a minor procedure such as a biopsy. However, if the cancer has grown deeper or down into the tissue below then surgery is more likely the treatment necessary. The surgery will entail the removal of the tumor and the surrounding skin and tissue around it. This can be a rather large spot depending on the severity of the tumor. If the cancer has spread to the surrounding lymph nodes then the doctor may have to remove them as well.

Once the tumor is removed you may need to be treated with Chemotherapy, Radiation or Biological therapy. Your doctor will be able to determine the best course of treatments for you and your situation. The most important thing is to be seen at the very first sign of melanoma to prevent the cancer from spreading at all.

Last updated on Sep 18th, 2009 and filed under Cancer Research. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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