Answering the 4 FAQs related to melanoma
Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer, which is expected to affect over 100,000 people in 2020. The condition originates in the skin cells whose function is to create melanin (the pigment behind the color of your skin). Overall, melanoma is more common in men, and its risk increases as one grows older. Read on as we take a closer look at this disease.
What causes melanoma?
So far, doctors and experts aren’t exactly sure as to what causes melanoma. However, genetic defects and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning lamps and beds increase the risk of the condition and are, therefore, seen as a few of the premier causes of melanoma.
A weakened immune system, likewise, increases the risk of the condition. Some of the other factors that increase your chances of being diagnosed with melanoma include a history of sunburn, old age, and too many moles on the body.
What are the symptoms of melanoma?
Melanoma proceeds in stages. Symptoms are hard to track in the earliest stages, which gives it room for growth. Nonetheless, the classic signs of the condition are as follows:
- Unusual growth of pigment on the skin
- Change in the original shape, size of a mole
- Sores that seem shiny and red
- Itchiness and frequent bleeding around a sore
An ABCDE examination is a useful method to help identify whether a mole has changed. Doing so can go a long way in preventing melanoma from becoming a severe issue. Lookout for growths and moles that have the following.
A – Asymmetrical shape
Moles of irregular shapes are often reported by patients suffering from melanoma.
B – Irregular border
The border of the mole or pigment will be uneven. The symptom is one of the many characteristics of melanoma.
C – Change in color
Pigments or moles will all be of different colors in the case of melanoma.
D – Diameter
An existing mole might shrink or enlarge due to melanoma. Visit the doctor if any mole grows more than one-quarter of an inch.
E – Evolving
Frequent changes in the shape, size, and color of one or more moles and pigment are possible indicators of melanoma.
How is melanoma diagnosed?
The first thing that the doctor will do is learn about your symptoms and whether there is a history of melanoma in the family. A biopsy is then ordered, wherein a suspicious pigment or mole is removed, partly or entirely, for testing. Punch biopsy and excisional biopsy are two ways to go about it.
If melanoma is positively diagnosed, learning its stage is the next step. The melanoma is studied for its thickness as a thicker one indicates a more serious problem. Lymph nodes are also examined to check whether the cancer has spread there. X-rays and CT rays are also ordered to look out for symptoms beyond the skin.
Having established everything, the doctor proceeds with treatment.
How is melanoma treated?
Melanoma is treated according to the severity of the problem. If diagnosed in the early stages, the cancer is treated by simply removing the melanoma and some of its neighboring tissues.
However, if the condition has entered into its latter stages, treatment isn’t as simple, requiring a combination of various methods.
Immunotherapy is commonly recommended to combat melanoma that has spread to the lymph nodes.
Targeted therapy is a similar form of drug treatment, wherein the medications tackle a specific weakness in the melanoma cancer cells.
If the melanoma cannot be removed through surgery, radiation therapy is often the way forward. Cancer cells are attacked using high-energy beams in this treatment method. Chemotherapy is one of the other common procedures used to treat melanoma.