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"Every patient teaches you something new and important."

Diana Mossop

Melanoma

Information Regarding Melanoma

Melanoma is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the skin cells called melanocytes cells that color the skin.Melanocytes are found throughout the lower part of the epidermis. They produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color. 


When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes produce more pigment, causing the skin to tan, or darken. 


The skin is the bodys largest organ. It protects against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. The skin has 2 main layers: the epidermis upper or outer layer and the dermis lower or inner layer. 


When melanoma starts in the skin, the disease is called cutaneous melanoma. Melanoma may also occur in the eye and is called intraocular or ocular melanoma. There are 3 types of skin cancer:

  • Melanoma. 
  • Basal cell skin cancer. 
  • Squamous cell skin cancer. 


Melanoma is more aggressive than basal cell skin cancer or squamous cell skin cancer. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body. In men, melanoma 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 arms and legs. 


Melanoma usually occurs in adults, but it is sometimes found in children and adolescents. 


Unusual moles, exposure to sunlight, and health history can affect the risk of developing melanoma.


Risk factors include the following: 

  • Unusual moles. 
  • Exposure to natural sunlight. 
  • Exposure to artificial ultraviolet light tanning booth. 
  • Family or personal history of melanoma. 
  • Being white and older than 20 years.
  • Red or blond hair. 
  • White or light-coloured skin and freckles. 
  • Blue eyes. 


Possible signs of melanoma include a change in the appearance of a mole or pigmented area.

 

These and other symptoms may be caused by melanoma or by other conditions. 


A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

  • A mole that: changes in size, shape, or colour. Has irregular edges or borders. is more than 1 color. Is asymmetrical if the mole is divided in half, the 2 halves are different in size or shape. Itches. Oozes, Bleeds, or is Ulcerated a hole forms in the skin when the top layer of cells breaks down and the underlying tissue shows through. 
  • Change in pigmented coloured skin. 
  • Satellite moles new moles that grow near an existing mole. 


If a mole or pigmented area of the skin changes or looks abnormal, the following tests and procedures can help detect and diagnose melanoma:

  • Skin examination: A doctor or nurse examines the skin to look for moles, birthmarks, or other pigmented areas that look abnormal in colour, size, shape, or texture. 
  • Biopsy: A local excision is done to remove as much of the suspicious mole or lesion as possible. A pathologist then looks at the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Because melanoma can be hard to diagnose, patients should consider having their biopsy sample checked by a second pathologist. Suspicious areas should not be shaved off or cauterized destroyed with a hot instrument, an electrical current, or a caustic substance.


Certain factors affect prognosis chance of recovery and treatment options.


The prognosis chance of recovery and treatment options depend on the following: 

  • The stage of melanoma whether cancer is found in the outer layer of skin only, or has spread to the lymph nodes, or to other places in the body.
  • Whether there was bleeding or ulceration at the primary site. 
  • The location and size of the tumor. 
  • The patients general health.Although many people are successfully treated, melanoma can recur come back.

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