What is melanoma Cancer?

 What is melanoma Cancer?

CANCER – Cancer: it is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Malignant tumors and neoplasms are the other terms used for Cancer. And the moment we hear the word ‘Cancer’, it gives us chills and we just pray that the person suffering from it should not die. Yes! And that’s because people have a preconceived notion that cancer is fatal irrespective of the type of cancer it is. But it is not true all the time, we have cancer survivors although they may be small in number as compared to the number of death but what is important here is that there is still hope of survival.

What is melanoma Cancer? ichhori.webp

Now that we have a slight idea of what cancer is, let's have a look at WHAT IS MELANOMA CANCER?

Melanoma is a type of Skin Cancer that is not the most common type of Skin Cancer but is one of the most serious and dangerous types of Skin Cancer. Melanoma develops in melanocytes (cells), these are the cells that produce melanin – And melanin is the pigment that gives color to our skin. Melanoma Cancer is one of the most dangerous types of Skin Cancer because if not treated on time, it can spread all over the body. 

Melanoma cells produce melanin that gives color to our skin like tan, brown, etc and thus Melanoma tumors are usually brown or black in color but sometimes, some of the melanomas don’t produce melanin thus the tumors can appear pink, tan, or even white. Melanomas can start developing on the skin, anywhere in the body and some of the common sites are the face and neck while the start of the trunk (chest and back) in men and legs in women. Although these are some of the common sites where people suffer from Melanoma Cancer but still there are chances that it can grow anywhere else in the body as well like palms of the hands, soles of the feet, under the nails, eyes, mouth, genitals, and anal areas although the last few can be considered as the least common places that the melanoma of the Skin and in very very cases it can also occur in intestines.

Causes of Melanoma Cancer: Some of the common causes of Melanoma Skin Cancer are as follows –

  • Exposure to Ultraviolet Rays – UV Rays are harmful to the human skin but that is what we are exposed to the most when we step out of our homes in the sun and that is because of the erosion of the ozone layer.
  • Fair Skin – Yes! You heard it correct, having fair skin increases your chances of developing Melanoma Skin Cancer because Fairer Skin means the Melanoma cells produce less melanin thus your skin can’t be protected against a lot of harmful rays emitted by the sun.
  • Family History of Melanoma Cancer – Sometimes children/people inherit genes from their parents that have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
  • DNA Mutations – Sometimes because of the DNA mutations the Oncogenes (Oncogenes are genes that help cells grow, divide and stay alive) are kept on while turns off the tumor suppressor genes which lead to indefinite cell growth and constant changes in the cells leads to Cancer.

Stages of Melanoma Skin Cancer – Melanoma Cancer can be divided into 5 stages depending on the amount of growth and where the growth is.

  • Stage 0 – Also referred to as “Melanoma in Situ” by the doctors is a stage where the cancer is only present in the outer layer of the skin and has not yet penetrated inside the other layers of the skin.
  • Stage 1 –Cancer has not yet spread into the lymph nodes and other sites and it is not yet ulcerated (develop into an ulcer) and the cancer is up to 2 millimeters (mm) thick.
  • Stage 2 – Cancer has yet not spread into the lymph nodes and other sites and it is not ulcerated and the cancer is 1mm thick but in reality maybe 4mm thick.
  • Stage 3 – Cancer may not be visible but if visible then it is 4mm thick and is ulcerated. And at this stage, the cancer has spread to one or more lymph nodes and lymphatic channels but has not spread to faraway sites.
  • Stage 4 – This can be considered as the last stage since the cancer has spread to distinct lymph nodes and other body parts and organs like lungs, brain, or liver.

Now that we know the stages of Melanoma Skin Cancer there are also types of Skin Cancer and they are as follows: 

  • Superficial Spreading Melanoma – This is the first most common type of Melanoma Skin Cancer and the cells tend to grow slowly before spreading on the skin. This type of cancer often appears on the trunk or limbs.
  • Nodular Melanoma – This is the second most common type of Melanoma Skin Cancer and the cells tend to grow faster than the other types and it can appear either reddish in color or black-blue in color. It appears in the trunk, head, or neck. 
  • Lentigo Maligna Melanoma – It is the least dangerous than other Melanoma Skin Cancers and it grows very slowly, although it may start as Hutchinson’s Freckle (flat or slightly raised patch which is brown in color similar to a freckle or age spot) gradually and slowly spreading on the skin. It usually develops in older adults as a reaction to long time exposure to the sun and in areas that had several years of exposure to the sun.
  • Acral Lentiginous Melanoma – The Acral Lentiginous Melanoma is the rarest kind of Melanoma Cancer and usually develops under the nails, soles of the feet, and the palms of the hands. And this Melanoma is more common in people with darker skin as they don’t get affected by other kinds of Melanoma Cancer.

What are the symptoms of melanoma Skin Cancer?

  • A sore skin that fails to heal.
  • A sore skin or spot that becomes red, itchy, and painful.
  • A sore spot that starts to bleed suddenly.
  • A spot that looks shiny, pale, and waxy.
  • A red spot, dry and scaly.
  • A red lump that looks ulcerated and clumpy.
  • Changes in the color, shape, and size of an existing mole or a formation of a new mole. 

Thus the above-mentioned symptoms can be an indication of any type of Melanoma Cancer like Nodular Melanoma, Lentigo Maligna Melanoma, Acral Lentiginous Melanoma, or Superficial Spreading Melanoma and so one should be careful and should always look out for things like these on your body and get treated as soon as they notice some abnormal change in their body because Melanoma can be dangerous if not treated on time. 

And regarding the treatment of Melanoma Cancer, it also has very similar treatments as compared to the treatment of other cancers but unlike other surgeries done for other types of cancer, it is comparatively easier here to remove the cancerous tissues and cells and that is why surgery is a standard treatment for Melanoma Cancer. And how can one prevent themselves from being affected by Melanoma Skin Cancer is that avoid exposure to UV Rays and when stepping outside of the house, make sure to apply sunscreen on your body and be protected from the UV Rays.

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