What is Melanoma Cancer?
Melanoma is skin cancer on face, hands, legs, and body. One of the most common skin diseases but, when malignant, it can be highly fatal as it can travel and affect other organs of the body. It is considered to be the most dangerous form of cancer, all over the world. Although it is least found in Asia, India has over 1 million cases of it every year.
The only good side about Melanoma is that it has visible symptoms, which if spotted and diagnosed early can be treated and almost certainly cured.
What is Malignant Melanoma Definition?
Malignant Melanoma is the formation of different types of skin cancer cells that are malignant that are now growing together. The common malignant melanoma symptoms are pigmentation and the formation of moles on the skin.
Signs of Malignant Melanoma
Melanoma often resembles moles, and some might even develop from moles. One of the major symptoms of melanoma is the pigmentation of the skin. But, not all pigmentation may lead to malignant melanoma.
Symptoms of Cancerous Moles
While trying to remember the signs of melanoma cancer, the easiest way is to think of “ABCDE”
A – Asymmetrical Skin Lesion
B – Border of the Pigmented area is irregular
C – Color is normally more than one shade
D – Diameter of the mole is generally larger than 6mm
E – Enlarged or evolving (skin tumors)
While it is normally black or brown in color, it is not restricted to just those colors. Many cases have been found where the melanoma has been skin- colored, pink, red, white, blue or even purple. This type of colored pigmentation is called amelanotic melanoma.
What causes Melanoma Skin Cancer?
There is no single cause behind a person developing a melanoma tumor. However, it has been found that the leading reason behind what causes skin cancer is excessive tanning – suntan and tanning beds.
Different Types of Melanoma Cancer
There are six types of skin melanoma, of which four skin cancer signs begin on the outside of the skin.
1. Benign Melanoma
Benign melanoma is highly common. It is the development of moles that are not malignant moles. However, if you should feel that there is something irregular about your mole, such as, it begins to grow at an alarming rate, then make sure to get a melanoma mole check done as soon as possible.
2. Uveal Melanoma
Eye cancer or eye melanoma is another type of melanoma that affects the iris of the eye, destroying the eye’s pigmentation. Quite often this type of cancer spreads and affects the liver, giving the patient uveal melanoma metastatic cancer.
3. Superficial Spreading Melanoma
As the name suggests, this type of melanoma grows over the skin for quite some time before penetrating under. It is the most common type and is found most often in the cases of young people.
4. Lentigo Maligna
It is quite similar to Superficial Spreading Melanoma, apart from the fact that it is found more often among older people, whose skin has been highly damaged over time. When it begins to show more signs of evasiveness, it is called Lentigo Maligna Melanoma.
5. Acral Lentiginous Melanoma
This also begins superficially but, is highly different to the others. It generally begins under the nails or soles of the feet or palms of the hand, as a discoloration, normally black or brown. This is the most common type of Melanoma among darker-skinned people. It is also more dangerous when compared to Superficial Spreading Melanoma and Lentigo Maligna.
6. Nodular Melanoma
This is the most dangerous type as it begins from within. It is only recognized when it forms a bump on the skin, usually brown or black. Furthermore, this is the most aggressive type as it spreads very fast.
Stages of Skin Cancer
There are four melanoma stages of cancer:
Stage Zero Melanoma
It is at this stage that the first malignant melanoma diagnosis can be made. In this stage, the cancer is still superficial and just developing. The cancer is only in the upper layer of the skin.
Early Stage Melanoma Treatment
Most often the treatment for early melanoma includes surgical cancerous mole treatment. This is highly recommended to prevent it from spreading.
Stage 1 Melanoma Prognosis
Melanoma symptoms stage 1 can be witnessed when the cancer is now 2mm without ulceration and without metastases.
Stage 1 Melanoma Treatment
The treatment for melanoma skin cancer often requires surgery, and in some cases, when the growth is rapid, includes the removal of nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 2 Melanoma Prognosis
Symptoms of melanoma that has spread begin to show in the form of tumors and ulcers. The other stage 2 melanoma symptoms include the growth of the ulcer, now over 1mm in thickness.
Malignant Skin Cancer Treatment – Stage 2
While surgical removal is the main way of treating melanoma in this stage, the lymph nodes are also removed to prevent cancer from spreading. The patient may have to undergo chemotherapy to lower the risk of it returning.
Stage Three Malignant Melanoma Prognosis
Stage three indicates that cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, as well as, grown in size considerably. The common stage 3 melanoma symptoms are swelling of the lymph nodes, although this is not the case with all patients.
Stage 3 Malignant Melanoma Treatment Options
Skin cancer specialists recommend the surgical removal of lymph nodes as they are already affected. The patient might also be subject to radiation therapy.
Stage 4 Melanoma Skin Cancer Prognosis
In this stage, cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes to other areas of the body – lungs, liver, etc. Melanoma stage 4 symptoms include tumor matting, an increase in tumor size, lumps forming inside the tumor and heavy ulceration, although the symptoms at this stage might differ from person to person.
How to Treat Skin Cancer at Stage 4
Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy are the most common forms of therapy at this stage.
Can Melanoma Be Cured?
So far, there has been no melanoma cure that has been found. While you can always approach a hospital for treatment, it is always easier to prevent than cure. Also, keep in mind that as there is no cure, even when treated, the signs might return, most often stronger than before.
Skin Cancer Prevention
Melanoma is caused most often by harsh UV radiation emitted by the sun. It can also be brought on through genetics. Here are a few methods to help reduce the risk of this skin disease, and many other such skin diseases.
1. Avoid the Sun
Avoid going out in the sun as much as possible. The sun is at its peak during the afternoon and, it is highly unadvised to go out during this time of the day.
Also Read: Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2016
2. Use Sunscreen
If you must go out, use a good sunscreen on all exposed parts of your body. A good sunscreen would be one that is both water resistant and contains an SPF of 30.
3. Cover Yourself
Try covering yourself when you go out in the sun. Wear a long sleeved coat or a scarf to protect your skin from the harsh rays of the sun.
4. Avoid Tanning Beds
Avoid using the tanning bed as it emits UV rays that can be very harmful to the skin.
5. Be Self-Aware
Finally, remember to check yourself for any irregular skin growths. It may be a new mole, bumps or discoloration of the skin.
Should you experience any metastatic melanoma symptoms and signs, or know anyone who might be experiencing any type of skin cancer symptoms, remember to get it checked by the doctor at the earliest.