Things You Need To Know About Melanoma
If you didn’t know, skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and each year, over one million people are diagnosed with skin cancer. As much as it is common, some people are still not aware of melanoma. They don’t even know how the disease can affect their lives. This is why measures are being taken to increase the awareness of Melanoma all over the world.
To support this, May has been set as the National Skin Cancer Awareness month and is used to inform people about the causes, risks, and even treatment of skin cancer. It is good to note that 90% of skin cancer is caused by the excessive exposure of skin to the sun. If you have more than five sunburns, this might double your risk of getting skin cancer. Getting to know these things actually puts you in a better position to protect yourself from getting the disease. Unfortunately, most of the different forms of melanoma go undetected during the early stages. This is why you need to be cautious and get to know your skin. This article will give you more insight into Melanoma.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that is rare but the most aggressive. It develops in the melanocytes that produce melanin. Melanin is that component which is responsible for giving your skin its color. Note that it can also form in your eyes and inside your body parts such as your throat. Experts have not been able to determine the exact cause of melanoma yet. However, exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun increases ones’ risks of getting melanoma. Unfortunately, the risk of melanoma is said to be higher in individuals who are above 40, with most of them being women. This type of skin cancer is also called cutaneous melanoma.
Superficial Spreading Melanoma
This type of melanoma is the most common. It comprises about 70% of all melanoma skin cancers. It usually appears in the limbs or trunk. The cells tend to grow slowly at first before they spread across the skin surface. In most cases, superficial spreading melanoma will grow outwards on the skin surface. This doesn’t mean that it cannot grow downwards. This form of melanoma varies in color and may have different shades such as black, red, or grey. In men, it mostly occurs in the back, whereas in women, it occurs in the legs.
Nodular melanoma usually appears in the head, neck, or trunk and may appear in blue-black or red color. It is regarded as the most aggressive form of cutaneous melanoma and may even develop where there was no mole. With this type of melanoma, you will notice that it grows downwards as it enters the deeper layers of the skin. It is mostly found in individuals who have reached 50 years.
Lentigo Maligna Melanoma
This type is less common and is found in older adults who have experienced excess exposure to the sun. It usually grows on the skin surface before becoming invasive. Lentigo malignant melanoma mostly appears like a stain on the skin and might even be mistaken for sunspots. With time, it grows in size, and might even change its shape.
Acral Lentiginous Melanoma
This is the rarest type of melanoma. It usually occurs on one’s palms, under the nails, and even on the soles of the feet. It is a bit common in people with darker skin types since these people rarely get infected with other types of melanoma. This type of melanoma will first appear as a small flat spot of discolored skin, usually black or dark brown. It will first grow outwards and spread on the skin before proceeding to grow deeper into the skin. It is tough to diagnose acral lentiginous melanoma because it’s difficult to see under the nails or other parts of the sole.
Usually, the first sign of melanoma that you are expected to spot is the presence of a new spot on your skin. Also, a change in the shape, color, and size of an existing mole could be a sign that you have melanoma. This ABCDE method will help you determine whether you are suffering from melanoma. If you notice any of the signs below, you need to seek help.
• Asymmetry: If you notice the mole has an irregular shape, then you might need to see a doctor.
• Border: You will notice that the edge of the spot isn’t smooth, but instead, it is notched.
• Color: The mole on your skin will have an uneven shade.
• Diameter: The spot on your skin will be larger than 6 millimetres. You, however, need to remember that
there are smaller melanomas.
• Evolving: You will notice that the mole keeps changing in color, size, and shape.
Some of the ways to prevent melanoma include:
Avoid Direct Sun
Since exposure to excess ultraviolet rays is said to be one of the triggers of melanoma, you need to be careful. Seek the shade most times and especially when the sun is the strongest. If you notice that your shadow is shorter than you, understand that the sun’s radiation is stronger and that you need to seek some shade. When you go outside during sunny hours, ensure you wear protective clothing and have sunglasses on as well.
If you get sunburns frequently, you need to watch out. Your risk for melanoma doubles if you get sunburns many times in your life. You, therefore, need to take measures to protect yourself against sunburns.
The UV radiations emitted from tanning machines and booths are said to cause cancer in humans. It is therefore advisable to avoid tanning however much you can, because of its adverse effects.
The other thing that you need to do is to become familiar with your skin. Examine it for any spots and changes in existing skin growths. Use a mirror to check your whole body, including your chest and genital areas. This will help you detect any abnormalities.
It is good to empower people so that they may minimize the chances of getting melanoma. Take it as your responsibility to also empower others.