Melanoma – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

March 27 01:27 2019 Print This Article

Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes which are found predominantly in skin but also in the bowel and the eye. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It begins in skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that make melanin, which gives skin its color. Melanin also protects the deeper layers of the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. When people spend time in the sunlight, the melanocytes make more melanin and cause the skin to tan. This also happens when skin is exposed to other forms of ultraviolet light (such as in a tanning booth). If the skin receives too much ultraviolet light, the melanocytes may begin to grow abnormally and become cancerous. Melanoma can affect most parts of the body. Melanoma may begin in or near a mole or other dark spot in the skin. It is important to be familiar with your skin and the pattern or moles, freckles and “beauty marks”. The most common site in women is on the legs. In men, the most common place is the back. Melanoma is most common in women between the ages of 40 and 60.

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that arises from melanocytes the cells that produce pigment. Melanin helps protect the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of sun rays. Melanoma cells still produce melanin, but the cells grow uncontrollably. This is why melanoma cancers have mixed shades of tan, brown and black skin cells. Melanoma is usually curable in its early stages. However, in later stages, melanoma spreads to other parts of the body and the chances for a cure is less. Melanoma begins when melanocytes become malignant, which can occur on any skin surface. In men, it is often found on the trunk (the area from the shoulders to the hips) or the head and neck. In women, melanoma often develops on the lower legs. The chance of developing melanoma increases with age, but it affects people of all age groups and is one of the most common cancers in young adults.

Causes of Melanoma

Find common causes and risk factors of Melanoma:

  • Family history.
  • Age over 50, although younger people can also get melanoma.
  • UV radiation such as sunlight and tanning lamps.
  • Fair skin, freckling and light hair.
  • Immune suppression (such as from certain illnesses or immunosuppressive medications).
  • Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), a rare genetic condition. People with XP are less able to repair damage caused by sunlight and are therefore at greater risk of melanoma.

Treatment for Melanoma

Treatment may include:

  • Removal of involved lymph nodes and/or chemotherapy. Melanoma that has spread has no cure at present.
  • Excisional biopsy in which the entire suspicious area is removedestablishes the diagnosis and helps plan the subsequent treatment.
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