Melanoma is an uncommon but serious type of skin cancer. It occurs when the cells responsible for pigment production (melanocytes) begin to mutate and divide rapidly. Melanoma, also known as malignant melanoma, is somewhat rare. The American Melanoma Foundation report shows that 70% of melanomas sprout close to a dark spot on the skin.
Both men and women are affected by this condition, it doesn’t spring up in the same areas. In men, it develops in the neck, head, and torso. In women, on the other hand, it develops in the legs and arms. Studies suggest that exposure to UV (ultraviolet rays) can increase the risk of one developing the condition.
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Types of Melanoma
There are 4 main types of melanoma. Below is an overview of each of them.
- Nodular Melanoma: Nodular usually appears in the neck, torso, and head. It has a blue-black or reddish appearance and grows a lot quicker than other types of melanoma.
- Lentigo Maligna Melanoma: This type of melanoma occurs when a specific part of the body is excessively exposed to the sun for an extended period. It usually starts as a lentigo maligna, which is somewhat similar to a stain on the skin. Experts have pointed out that it isn’t as dangerous as other types of melanoma, as it grows slowly.
- Superficial Spreading Melanoma: This is by far one of the most common types. It usually springs up in the legs and torso.
- Acral Lentiginous Melanoma: This type is rare. It usually develops under the nails, on the palms, and on the soles of the feet.
Symptoms of Melanoma
In melanoma, there is usually a spot on your body that is:
- Tender and painful
- Doesn’t heal
- Changes the shape, size, and color of an existing mole
- Waxy, pale, and shiny
- Red, flat, dry, and scaly
Diagnosis of Melanoma
The following tests could be done by your doctor in order to determine if you have melanoma:
Skin Biopsy: Here, a skin sample in the suspected area is removed and taken to the lab for examination.
Physical Exam: During a physical exam, your skin will be thoroughly looked at. Your doctor will closely inspect the following areas:
- Under the toenails and fingernails
- Between the buttocks
Blood Chemistry Study: During this test, your doctor will collect a small amount of blood and send it to the lab for examination. If the number of enzymes in the blood is high, chances are, you have melanoma.
How to Treat Melanoma
Below are the treatments your doctor may recommend at each stage of the condition:
Stage 0: The suspected area will be removed during a surgical procedure or biopsy. No further treatment may be required after this.
Stages 1 and 2: The thin melanoma will be totally removed during a biopsy or a surgical procedure.
Stages 3 and 4: Your doctor may recommend any of the following treatments:
- Immunotherapy Medications strengthen the immune system and help the body fight cancerous cells.
- Radiation Therapy: This procedure shrinks and destroys cancerous cells. It also helps relieve the symptoms associated with cancer.
How to Manage Melanoma
Below are some alternative treatments for melanoma:
Nutrition Therapy: Studies have shown that eating foods loaded with antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals (which are linked to causing cancer). What’s more, they can help fight cancer too. A recent study found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Green Tea: Green tea is full of antioxidants that can prevent tumors.
Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy can help reduce pain, inflammation, and soreness — all of which are associated with melanoma.
Massage: Massages can help reduce the pain from melanoma.
- How do I prevent melanoma? To reduce the risk of getting melanoma, you should wear sunscreen and clothes that shield your face, legs, and arms, especially when you are going outside. Also, you should avoid tanning beds and prolonged exposure to the sun.
- Is melanoma a common condition? No, it is not. A recent survey shows that the condition is rare and it makes up only 1% of skin cancers.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!