What is melanoma?
The most dangerous kind of skin cancer is melanoma, which means “black tumour” in Latin. It spreads easily to any organ and expands swiftly. Melanocytes, which are skin cells, are the source of melanoma. Melanin, a dark pigment that gives skin its colour, is produced by these cells. However, some melanomas are pink, red, purple, or skin-colored. Melanomas are often black or brown in hue.
The majority of melanomas start in normal skin, however about 30% start in moles that already exist. Given that the majority of melanomas don’t begin as moles, it is crucial to remain alert to changes in your skin. Your skin’s propensity to acquire melanoma may, however, be predicted in part by the number of moles you have. Finding out if you belong to a melanoma skin cancer risk category is crucial.
Due to melanomas’ rapid rate of growth, delaying treatment might occasionally mean the difference between life and death. Since melanomas have a 99% cure rate if identified in the earliest stages, knowing your risk might help you be especially alert in detecting changes in your skin and obtaining skin checks. Early identification is crucial since the depth of the malignant development directly affects the effectiveness of the treatment.
How common is melanoma?
Though it only accounts for around 1% of all skin malignancies, melanoma is the leading cause of death from skin cancer. It is one of the most prevalent cancers in people under the age of 30, particularly among young women.
Over the past 30 years, melanoma incidence has substantially increased. It is widely acknowledged that one of the primary causes of this sharp increase in melanoma cases is rising UV exposure levels.
Signs of melanoma
Any part of your body might develop melanoma. Even your internal organs and eyes can get melanoma. Melanoma is more likely to form on the trunk of men, frequently the upper back. Melanoma on the legs is more common in women.
Because early melanomas can often be successfully treated, it is crucial to know how to recognise them. Moles, scaly patches, open sores, and elevated bumps can all be symptoms of melanoma.
The “ABCDE” memory aid from the American Academy of Dermatology will help you remember the indicators that a lesion on your skin can be melanoma:
- Asymmetry: One half is different from the other.
- Border: The borders are not straight.
- Color: There are varying hues of brown, black, grey, red, and white that are speckled and irregular.
- Diameter: The spot’s diameter is larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser (6.0 mm).
- Evolving: The spot is changing in size, shape, or colour or is new.
Tell your doctor if you see any sores that won’t heal, odd bumps or rashes, changes in your skin, or any moles you already have because not all melanomas follow the ABCDE rule.
The ugly duckling sign is another method for detecting melanoma. The ugly duckling mole is one that stands out from the rest and needs to be examined by a dermatologist.
What causes melanoma?
The majority of medical professionals concur that excessive sun exposure, especially sunburns while you are young, is a significant risk factor for melanoma. According to statistics, solar ultraviolet (UV) rays are the primary cause of 86% of melanomas. What causes skin cancer in the sun? UV exposure can alter specific genes that control how cells grow and divide by damaging a cell’s DNA. When your skin’s DNA is harmed and those cells begin to divide, issues could arise.
The World Health Organization has classified UV radiation from tanning beds as a carcinogen, or substance that causes cancer, because it increases the risk of melanoma. Over 6,000 melanoma cases are thought to be linked to tanning bed use each year in the US.
Although anyone can get melanoma, those who have the following risk factors are more likely to do so:
- A personal account of having melanoma.
- a melanoma family history.
- Blue eyes, blond or red hair, and fair skin with freckles.
- excessive sun exposure, which can result in painful sunburns.
- A residence near the equator or at a high elevation may expose you to more UV radiation.
- a background of using tanning beds.
- an immune system compromise.
- a lot of moles, particularly unusual moles.
Melanoma can affect anyone, however it is more prevalent in white people. Melanoma most frequently develops on the palms, soles, and nails of those with darker skin.
- Although melanoma cannot always be prevented, you can lessen your risk of acquiring it by staying out of the sun (even going pink in the sun).
- When on vacation overseas or in the UK during the summer, most individuals become sunburned when engaging in outdoor activities like gardening, tanning, or playing cricket.
- You must exercise extreme caution at these times, especially if you have fair skin and numerous moles.
- By using sunscreen and dressed responsibly in the sun, you can aid in preventing yourself from suffering from sun damage.
- Avoid using sunlamps and sunbeds.
- Regular skin examinations can aid in an early diagnosis and improve the likelihood of a successful cure.
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