Melanoma cancer may not be diagnosed as frequently as some other types of skin cancer, but it is generally much more dangerous. It’s fast-growing if not caught and treated soon enough.
What is Melanoma?
Under normal circumstances, skin cells develop in a methodical manner, with newer, healthier cells growing and pushing older ones to the skin’s surface to die off naturally. However, when the DNA of cells becomes damaged, it changes the system of how new cells form. This is when they can turn into cancer. If this occurs in melanin-producing cells, referred to as melanocytes, the result can be melanoma cancer.
Melanoma’s symptoms appear as growths, which might mirror the look of moles—some are even derived from moles—and can take on a black, brown, pink, red, white, or skin-colored hue. They may be recognized on various areas of the body, but are likely to be found on the legs, neck, face, chest, or back. The four melanoma symptoms to watch out for include asymmetrical moles, uneven borders of moles, a mole that is different shades of color, moles that are large in diameter, and moles that seem to be changing or evolving in size, color, shape, and elevation.
The Causes of Melanoma Cancer
A high percentage of melanoma cancer cases are caused by sun exposure and tanning bed use. It’s vital to cover up the skin with sunscreen or clothing whenever venturing outside for long periods of time. Other factors are also thought to play a role in melanoma, including family genetics, skin type, a weakened immune system, and a large number of moles.
Untreated, or treated in a late stage, melanoma cancer is known to easily spread to the lymph nodes, bones, lungs, liver, and brain. Melanoma treatment largely depends on where it’s located, the stage it’s in, and the patient’s health. Radiation, chemotherapy, biological therapy, or targeted therapy may be used to eliminate cancerous cells, along with immunotherapy drugs. In an early stage, melanoma can often be entirely removed during a biopsy, not requiring the patient to go through any other kind of treatment.
Whether you’re worried that you’ve developed melanoma, want to learn more about potential melanoma treatment options, or need advice about preventive measures, Dr. Thomas Wright at St. Louis Laser Liposuction Center can help. It’s critical that you visit a doctor at the first sign that you may have melanoma and get an exam by a medical professional who specializes in the health of skin.