Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It is the most dangerous type of skin cancer a person can have. Melanoma can result in serious illness and death once in its advanced stages. Luckily, there are warning signs of melanoma that can be detected when it is still in its early stage. In most cases where melanoma is detected early it can be treated and cured without any problem. It is only when melanoma is not treated in the beginning stage that it can then spread to other parts of the body and become harder to treat. This is when melanoma can become fatal.
Melanoma originates in the cells that produce the pigment melanin. These cells are called melanocytes and when a malignant tumor grows from the meloncytes it is called melanoma. Most melanomas are brown or black in color but for some people the melanomas are pink, red, purple, blue white or even skin-colored. Some melanomas appear in moles that are already on the skin. Other times a melanoma can grow outside of a mole and create a new spot on the skin. It is very important to be familiar with your skin and all the moles that you may already have. If you happen to notice one or more moles changing in color, shape or size you should get it checked out immediately. You should also see a doctor right away if you notice any new spots appearing on the skin that do not look like a typical freckle or mole that would be on your body.
When it comes to treating melanoma it depends on the stage the cancer is in. If the melanoma was detected in the beginning stages the cancer can be removed surgically. This may be as simple as going into your local doctor’s office and having the spot removed within minutes. If the melanoma has started progressing it may be necessary to remove some of the lymph nodes located around the infected area. Depending on how deep the tumor has become can determine what stage the cancer is in. The doctor will examine the lymph nodes to see if they have become infected. In later stages it may be necessary to have MRI’s, CT scans and PET scans to look in other parts of the body for cancer that has spread. If cancer is found in other parts of the body, surgery may be performed along with the administering of other treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, biochemotherapy or gene therapy. Finding the cancer in the earliest stage possible gives the patient the best chance of survival.
The best way to prevent melanoma from developing is to protect your self against too much sun. Exposure to dangerous UV rays can increase our odds of getting skin cancer. Always were sunscreen when going outdoors and stay in shaded areas whenever you have a chance. Make sure that children are well protected since their skin is more delicate and susceptible to damage. It is important to do a self skin examination every 6 to 8 weeks to make sure there is no development of skin cancer. Also make sure to see your doctor regularly for a physical examination. If someone in your family has had melanoma then you may be at greater risk for the disease. Also people who are light or fair skinned may have a greater risk as well. Bring up all concerns you may have with your doctor about melanoma and make sure to ask your doctor how to prevent from developing this form of skin cancer. If you notice an unusual spot on your skin seek medical attention right away.