Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma
Melanoma is a serious skin cancer, and if left untreated can prove damaging or even fatal. The worst part about the whole thing is that prevention of melanoma is an easy task, but most people neglect to put on suntan lotion when it’s needed. As a matter of fact, most melanomas develop in young adults that spend large amounts of time in the sun without adequate skin protection.
Cancer is an oddly preventable problem many cases. Specifically with lung cancer and melanomas, chances are that if you live a smoke-free, suntan-protected lifestyle, you have a very low risk of developing either of these two diseases.
But I digress – let’s talk about melanomas and where on the body they are commonly found.
A melanoma is a like a mole on your skin that’s gone rogue. The easy explanation for this, taking apart the fact that genetic history plays into it, is the fact that our cells contain chemicals that are susceptible to mutagens – like UV light from the sun. UV rays can penetrate deep into the skin and can cause melanin-producing melanocytes to mutate and start growing uncontrollably (this is a defining characteristic of all cancers – uncontrollable cell growth).
MedlinePlus has a great way to remember the way to check whether or not a mole is problematic. They call it the “ABCD” method.
A is for Asymmetry – The shape of the mole isn’t symmetrical, check if one side matches the other.
B is for Border – Normal moles have smoothed edges, cancerous moles typically have blurry or jagged borders
C is for Color – If a mole is multicolored and includes black, brown and tan, chances are you’re looking at a melanoma.
D is for Diameter – Moles increase in size over time when they are cancerous.
Stage 1 usually involves the expansion of the diameter of a mole you’ve had for a while, and if you look and find these signs and symptoms of melanoma, it’s time to check with a healthcare provider.
Types of Melanoma
Melanoma treatment includes the typical cancer treatments – radiological, surgical and chemotherapy. Of the three, if at all possible, the doctor will want to perform a surgery and remove the mole, as it is the simplest of the three procedures and could even just be a quick and easy surgery depending on the location of the cancerous mole.
Melanoma is one of those cancers that cannot be discarded as “just another mole”, because treatment is most successful when the problem is caught in the early stages. Treatment in the later stages can also be successful, but it doesn’t ensure that metastasis hasn’t already occurred.
The symptoms of melanoma can be a little more insidious than the signs that melanoma is present. The only real symptom that can be visibly seen is a mole, until metastasis has occurred, then you need to refer to the symptoms of the organ that has been affected.
Three types of melanomas are particularly harmful and even harder to detect.
Melanomas under the nails
Because there’s skin under your nails, a melanoma underneath the nail can often be mistaken for an injury on the nail, and as such, can continue untreated for an extremely long time.
Melanoma in the mouth or GI or vagina
A vaginal melanoma can often be mistaken for a yeast infection and good luck finding a melanoma inside your small intestine. These are horrible because they are incredibly difficult to treat if they are even detected at all.
Melanoma in the eye
In the eye are by and large the worst kinds of melanomas – as they can form on the back portion of the eye, known as the retina. The good news is that ophthalmologists all over the country are changing in their dilation solutions for retina scanners that can check the back of the retina, so this kind of melanoma is becoming ever more detectable. Furthermore, as long as proper UV protected sunglasses or regular glasses are worn, chances of getting an ocular melanoma decrease to almost nothing.
And there you have it – melanoma is a complex subject, so I suggest if you want more information to visit the links provided at the bottom of the page – the national health administrations have some great information about treatment as well as prevention and even more signs and symptoms.