Melanoma is a type of skin cancer linked to excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. It is initially noticed through the identification of special mole growths in the skin.
Melanoma can spread fairly quickly to other body organs. Due to this, it is crucial to submit yourself to tests if you spot suspicious-looking moles or detect obvious changes in an existing one. Early melanoma detection is key to stopping it from further spreading and damaging your other vital organs.
Have your doctor assess your skin and moles to detect any early visible signs of melanoma in your body. You must follow any recommended steps after the consultation so that you will receive proper and prompt treatment according to your detected symptoms.
A quick physician consultation just might be the key to potentially saving your life from this cancer.
70% of melanoma cases in the UK are identified as Superficial Spreading Melanoma. This condition is also the most common melanoma type around the world. Affected regions of the body are usually at the legs, back, face, and arms. Rare melanoma types may also affect the soles of the feet, underneath the fingernails, palms of the hands, and the eyes.
Mole assessment is usually the first step towards checking for melanoma. The ABCDE checklist is the universal code that represents the following mole characteristics to watch out for:
It’s worth noting that these symptoms do not occur in a specific order and not all need to be present for it to be melanoma.
Your safest bet is to consult your physician once you feel suspicions about the moles you see in your skin. Do not delay your doctor appointments in an attempt to observe first what will happen further to your suspicious moles.
If your mole starts to crust, itch, bleed, or becomes painful, it’s all the more reason to go see your physician right away.
Prolonged sunlight exposure is the leading cause of melanoma. Sunlight contains harmful ultraviolet rays that can be highly damaging to the cells on your skin.
Sunlight carries three UV light types: A, B, and C. UV rays A and B are the culprits of skin problems and cancer. Notice how sunscreen lotions are labeled with protection from UVA and UVB rays, which means when you slather it on your body, you’re raising a layer of protection for your skin.
Using a sunscreen lotion with a factor high enough to protect from the sun’s rays is crucial. Proper application is equally important. You can increase your risks of having melanoma simply by using an inadequate product or by not applying sun lotion products properly.
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 up your risk of developing melanoma at a later time.
Sunbeds used to get a tan are as risky and dangerous as prolonged sunlight exposure. The government enforced a 2010 law that prohibits sunbed use for children below 18 years old, in an effort to protect them from increased risks of melanoma.
It’s not just spending hours under the sun that puts a person at great risk for melanoma. You are also prone to developing this illness if you have any of the following factors:
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. Persons suffering from these illnesses are more prone to acquiring melanoma as well, according to research.
Overweight men also have a tendency to get melanoma, as a few more pieces of research discovered.
Melanoma staging is determined by its thickness, extent of skin breakage, and the rate of spreading to other organs (metastasis).
Initially, the melanoma hasn’t broken the skin yet. Its thickness is less than 1mm.
The melanoma already broke through the skin. Its thickness may still be less than 1mm. Melanoma up to 2mm in thickness can be classified under Stage 1B.
This melanoma already broke through the skin and has a thickness from 2mm to 4mm.
Melanomas in this stage may be slightly thicker than 4mm and could also be a bit less than that. They already broke through the skin.
Melanomas thicker than 4mm and have broken the skin are classified under this stage.
The melanoma has already metastasized to a maximum of three lymph nodes. It hasn’t broken the skin though, and they aren’t visibly bigger.
There are three conditions classified under stage 3B:
Like the previous, Stage 3C has three conditions that a melanoma can fit in:
This is the last and most advanced stage wherein the melanoma already metastasized from the lymph nodes to other body organs such as the liver, lungs, bones, and brain.
How early you and your doctor caught the melanoma dictates the appropriate treatment that will be given to you. Doctors will perform an assessment of your symptoms first and apply the staging system that was explained earlier to determine how far you are in the disease.
Once your doctor senses a potential melanoma, he can perform a biopsy on your suspicious mole to check if it is cancerous or just a benign growth.
Now, treatment will again depend on the melanoma stage you are in. Beginning melanoma in the budding periods which haven’t progressed beyond the skin’s surface can still be removed surgically with a local anaesthetic. More serious forms of melanoma will need equally aggressive treatments.
Treatment plans used to manage cancer are usually offered to patients with higher stages of melanoma. For instance, stage 4 is the last and most serious form of the disease, and treatment plans for this may already include chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Early detection is indeed highly crucial in preventing melanoma from getting worse. That is why you are highly encouraged to consult your doctor if you have concerns about a melanoma possibility.
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