What is Melanoma
Melanomas are cancers that originate in melanocytes, which produce pigment in the skin. UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds usually causes this condition. It is often identified by its appearance as an unusual-looking mole or spot on the skin.
It is essential to consult a doctor if you observe any changes in an existing mole or notice a suspicious-looking mole. Preventing the spread of melanoma to other organs requires early detection.
A dermatologist can inspect your skin for any signs of a potential melanoma and guide the best course of action for treatment. Melanoma patients may have better outcomes if they are detected and treated early.
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In the EU, Superficial Spreading Melanoma is the most prevalent form of Melanoma, comprising about 70 per cent of cases. It can affect areas such as the back, legs, arms, and face; however, some rarer types can affect the soles of the feet, palms of the hands, eyes, and underneath the fingernails.
Anyone concerned about a mole can use the ABCDE checklist. Your mole should be examined by a doctor if:
- The shape of one side is noticeably different from the other.
- There are no smooth, easily identifiable borders on this product.
- It has multiple colours, especially if patches have turned dark brown, red, or black.
- Its diameter exceeds six millimetres.
- Enlarges, that is, the area it covers becomes larger or raised.
Not all of these symptoms must be present for Melanoma, and they do not necessarily occur in order.
Melanoma is a serious condition, so it is essential to consult a doctor if any moles on your skin start to itch, bleed, crust over or become painful. Please do not take a wait-and-see approach, as it could be dangerous. If you have any symptoms don't hesitate to contact a medical professional.
What Causes Melanoma?
Unless you take the necessary precautions, extended exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of Melanoma and skin cancer.
UV light in sunlight is divided into three types - A, B, and C - primarily the first two, UV-A and UV-B, which can harm skin cells. Exposure to these two types of UV light causes sunburn and skin cancer.
This is why the labelling on sun lotion bottles details the protection against UVA and UVB. Inadequate sun cream, whether not a high enough factor or needs to be appropriately applied, can increase the risk of Melanoma.
Sunburn is caused when skin cells are damaged by prolonged exposure to UV light. It can be excruciating and uncomfortable at the time, but it also increases the risk of developing Melanoma in later life.
Sunburn and Melanoma
Prolonged exposure to sunlight damages the skin’s cells, leading to an uncomfortable and painful sunburn. But more than the pain and uneasiness that sunburn can give, the condition can also seriously raise your risk of developing melanoma at a later time.
Melanoma causes other than the sun
Sunbeds increase the likelihood of developing Melanoma, so the government made it illegal for people under 18 to use them in 2010. Sunbeds are as hazardous as natural sunlight, and numerous studies demonstrate that the risks of using them to achieve a tanned look outweigh the benefits.
Who is at most risk of Melanoma?
If any of the following characteristics apply to you, you must take extra care to protect yourself from developing Melanoma. These risk factors include:
- Blonde or red hair
- Fair or freckled skin
- A family history of skin cancer
- Old age
- A poor immune system
- Blue eyes
- A high number of moles on your body
- If you have had skin cancer previously
Recent studies have indicated a link between Melanoma and other conditions such as sarcoidosis and Crohn's disease (IBD). This means that those suffering from these conditions are more likely to develop Melanoma, making it essential to be aware of the signs and seek medical treatment as early as possible.
These illnesses can have various symptoms, and the medication used to treat them can also cause additional side effects.
It has been shown that being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing Melanoma in men.
Other people at risk from Melanoma
Studies have shown that particular ailments have links to melanoma development in terms of symptoms and medication side effects.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and sarcoidosis are two such diseases. According to research, people suffering from these illnesses are more prone to acquiring melanoma as well.
Overweight men also tend to get melanoma, as a few more pieces of research discovered.
What are the Stages of Melanoma?
It is less than 1mm thick and has not broken the skin.
If the Melanoma is less than 1mm thick but has broken the skin, it may be as thick as 2mm.
A melanoma may be up to 4mm thick or less than 2mm thick, but the skin has been broken.
A melanoma may be thicker or thinner than 4mm or have broken the skin but be thinner than 4mm.
The skin has been broken, and the Melanoma is thicker than 4mm.
Despite the spread of Melanoma to three lymph nodes, they do not appear to be more significant. There is no break in the skin or spread to other body parts.
If the Melanoma has broken the skin and spread to three lymph nodes or fewer, and these lymph nodes are not visibly enlarged, OR if the Melanoma hasn't broken the skin but has spread to three lymph nodes or fewer and these lymph nodes are visibly enlarged, OR if the Melanoma hasn't broken the skin but is starting to spread across the skin and lymphatic channels (although it hasn't reached any lymph nodes yet) then this is the case.
Melanoma can be detected when it has spread to the lymph nodes, skin, and lymphatic channels, caused the lymph nodes to enlarge visibly, or when cancer has spread to four or more lymph nodes, regardless of whether it has broken the skin.
Melanoma has progressed and may have spread to distant organs, including the brain, bones and lungs.
Early identification of Melanoma is essential for successful treatment. A biopsy will be performed to determine its cancerous status if a suspicious mole is detected. If it is, the doctor will determine the following actions.
Your doctor will use a ' staging system ' to decide on the correct treatment for your Melanoma. This system is used for assessing the progression of the cancer and how far it has spread.
For instance, stage 0 melanoma is detected and treated before it can spread or become invasive. Treatment involves the removal of the Melanoma through a surgical procedure while the patient is under local anaesthetic.
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Serious forms of Melanoma
On the contrary, stage 4 melanoma is a more advanced form of the cancer that has spread to other body parts. Treatment for this condition is much more complicated and may involve treatments similar to those used for different types of cancer, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. This is the most severe form of Melanoma and requires prompt medical attention.
If you are experiencing any concerning symptoms, it is vital to seek medical advice promptly. It is possible to make a massive difference in the outcome of a health condition by detecting it early. If you see a doctor as soon as possible, your chances of a positive outcome will increase. Don't wait - talk to a doctor today.