Advanced Health Conditions

Melanoma

Melanoma Overview:

Melanoma is a type of malignant skin cancer that is prevalent in Caucasians, particularly those living in sunny climates. Melanoma accounts for approximately 48,000 deaths, worldwide, each year.

 

Melanoma Causes:

Over exposure to the sun is one of the primary causes of melanoma, particularly in light haired and fair skinned people who are overly sensitive to the sun. Family history, age and a prior history of melanoma are also risk factors. Melanoma, and other skin cancers, have also been linked to tanning beds. Severe sunburn, with blistering and peeling, in the early years of life, put people at a greater risk of melanoma later in life.

 

 

Melanoma Symptoms:

The first signs of melanoma are usually a mole that has changed in appearance and texture, becoming irregular in size, or shape, and changing color. Most melanomas have a bluish-black colored area and are ugly in appearance. They are usually not painful.

Melanoma can be cured, by removal, if it is detected early enough. If a doctor suspects melanoma a biopsy will be performed to see if there is a malignancy. Treatment takes into account the thickness and depth of the melanoma and may involve chest x-rays, blood tests and scans of the brain, liver and bones to ascertain if the malignancy has spread. Examination of lymph nodes may result in their removal, if cancerous, as part of the treatment. Surgery is the standard treatment for melanoma and may be followed by chemotherapy or radiation.

In order to prevent melanoma it is best to avoid exposure to midday sun and protect yourself by wearing a hat and long sleeves and using a good sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.  Good quality UV absorbing sunglasses should also be worn.

If you notice any changes in an existing mole, or a new “ugly” one appears, you should consult your doctor immediately.

 

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