Melanoma Skin Cancer
There are 3 types of skin cancers, – basal cell, the squamous cell and the melanoma types of skin cancer. The less common but the most dangerous skin disease is melanoma skin cancer. When malignant tumors are formed by the multiplication of skin cells caused by the DNA damage to the cells of the skin. These malignant tumors are formed by the melanocytes which produce pigments.
In most cases, the reason behind the melanoma is the intense exposure to the UV light which damages the DNA of the skin cells. People who are genetically vulnerable to this tumor, easily catch it even after the occasional sun exposure. These tumors are generally, like the moles or sometimes, form from the moles.
As the melanoma is the most fatal skin cancer, it causes the most amount of deaths. Around 76,380 people die for the invasive melanoma according to the 2016 estimation. But melanoma is almost always curable if found at the early stage.
Generally, with a mole on the skin, the melanoma appears. The melanoma mole can appear anywhere in the body either as a new mole or with the change in a pre-existing mole. The legs or the back are the most prone area to the melanoma moles.
The shape of the melanoma moles or tumors is irregular and different in color. This tumor can be of black or brown color or maybe skin color, pink, red, purple, blue, white in color. The moles can be itchy or sometimes, can bleed.
Different stages of melanoma
Melanoma formation passes 5 stages to reach the incurable stage. Doctors can treat if the melanoma can be found at the early stage. The medication and the treatment vary at different stages. Doctors treat based on the stage of the melanoma.
Stage no. zero:
In this stage, a mole is found at the outermost layer of the skin. This is called the in situ melanoma.
Stage no. 1:
The mole becomes 2 mm in the thickness. It may be ulcerated, sometimes.
Stage no. 2:
The thickness increases up to 4 mm. In this stage, the spread does not reach the lymph nodes or the other places yet.
Stage no. 3:
In this stage, the cancerous cells reach 1 or more lymph nodes and the lymphatic channels, but this stays nearby the upper layer of the skin. The cells cannot be seen and if seen, the thickness will be over 4 mm. it can be ulcerated.
Stage no. 4:
Cancer spread to the lymph nodes remaining at the distant places. In this stage, cancer can reach to the brain, lungs, or liver.
Different types of melanoma
Melanoma can be of 4 types- superficial spreading, nodular, lentigo maligna, and the acral lentiginous melanoma.
The superficial spreading melanoma:
It is the most common type of melanoma and it appears on the limbs or the trunk. At the first stage, it grows slowly and spread across the skin surface.
The nodular melanoma:
It appears at the trunk, neck or the head. It grows faster than any other type of melanoma and turns the skin color to the red.
The lentigo maligna melanoma:
The older people are more vulnerable to this type of melanoma. This is the less common type of melanoma. The areas of the skin that remain exposed to the sun for a long time are affected by this type of melanoma. The appearance is like a stain which is called lentigo maligna or the Hutchinson’s freckle. It is the most dangerous type of melanoma. The growth of this type is slow.
The acral lentiginous melanoma:
The is the least common melanoma. The affected areas are the palms of the hands, under the nails, and the soles of the feet. This melanoma does not occur for the sun exposure. Dark-complexioned people are prone to catch this type of melanoma.
The reasons behind the melanoma skin cannot be found with 100% surety. From certain symptoms, melanoma can be predicted. Certain features of the skin of the people can trigger melanoma.
The high density of freckles, moles, or atypical moles can turn to melanoma. The actinic lentigines known as the liver spots, age spots or the sunspots can easily turn to malignant cells. Sunburn especially, irregular sunburn can produce melanoma. The possibility increase with the age of the people.
Genetic history of melanoma and the organ transplantation process can increase the possibility of melanoma cancer.
Preventive measures for melanoma
According to the WHO, around 60,000 deaths are caused by sun exposure and among them, 48,000 deaths are caused by the melanoma.
- The risk of skin cancer can be reduced greatly by the prevention from the sun exposure. To be protected from the sunburn people can take several measures like
- Avoiding sunburn and the suntan.
- Sunlight protective clothes.
- Using sunscreen lotion or cream with SPF of 20 or more. Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going out and reapplied per 2 hours.
- Avoiding sun beds, lamps or tanning beds.
- Following the UV index.
Treatments for the melanoma
The treatments are common like other skin cancers. For melanoma, surgery works better for the complete removal of the malignant cells. In the surgery, lesion causing tissues are removed completely and also surrounding tissues are removed. So, the possibility of the repeat attack can be cut off.
Moreover, different types of therapy are also used to treat melanoma but in fewer cases. The biological therapy, chemotherapy, and photodynamic therapy are used when the situation is severe.