Melanoma is an intrusive skin cancer that commonly develops in melanocyte cells. Melanocytes produce melatonin that provides your skin with its natural color. Though melanoma is common in the skin, sometimes, it can occur in your eyes and nose. Women above 40 years are more prone to developing this type of cancer. Knowing melanoma symptoms will help you to adopt the right treatment methods before your cancer will spread to other parts of the body. If detected early, melanoma cancer is highly treatable.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma or black tumor is a type of skin cancer that spreads and grows hurriedly. Nearly 30% of melanoma starts from your existing moles, but some may grow in normal skin. So, if there is any change in your skin, you must consult a doctor without ignoring it. If detected in the early stages, melanoma has a cure rate of 99%.
Melanoma may develop in any part of your body (from the eyes to internal organs). Men are more susceptible to developing melanoma on their trunks, on the other hand; women usually get melanoma in their legs.
Signs of Melanoma
Sometimes, you may experience melanoma in those areas which don’t get much sun exposure. Melanomas may occur in the areas like your feet, palms of your hands and fingernail beds. People who have darker skin may get this type of melanoma.
Signs and symptoms of melanoma are:
- A noticeable alteration in an existing mole
- A new pigmented or abnormal-looking growth on your skin
Melanoma can appear on your normal skin.
Normal moles possess an even color (like tan, brown or black) with a distinctive border that separates the mole from your adjacent skin. These moles are round and have smaller sizes (less than 1/4 inch (in diameter).
People usually get moles in their childhood and new moles appear till the age of 40. Over time, moles may change their appearance and some may disappear with your age.
Uncommon Moles That May Indicate Melanoma
To find out the characteristics of uncommon moles that may imply melanomas or other skin cancers, you need to think about the letters ABCDE.
1. A is for Asymmetrical Shape: Check out moles with irregular shapes, such as two separate-looking halves.
2. B is for Irregular Border: Check moles that are irregular, notched or scalloped border. These are some common features of melanomas.
3. C is for Color Changes: To discover growths that have multifarious colors or irregular distribution of color.
4. D is for Diameter: Check out for new growth in a mole whose size is larger than 1/4 inch
5. E is for Evolving: Consider the changes with time. Pay attention to those moles that may change color or shape. If you experience any new signs and symptoms like itching or bleeding from your new moles, talk to your doctor.
How is Melanoma Diagnosed?
Your doctor may recommend several tests to diagnose various stages of your melanoma. Your doctor may refer to the below-mentioned tests.
1. Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: Patients whose melanomas are deeper than 0.8 mm or those who have ulceration under the microscope in tumors or other uncommon features under the microscope, may go for a biopsy of sentinel lymph nodes. This test finds out whether your melanoma has spread or not. Patients who have been diagnosed via a sentinel lymph node biopsy have greater survival rates than those diagnosed with melanoma via physical exam.
2. CT scan: A CT reveals whether melanoma is in your internal organs or not.
3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan: This type of scan is recommended to check melanoma tumors in the brain or spinal cord.
4. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan: A PET scan is recommended to find out melanoma in lymph nodes and distant parts of your body that are far away from the original melanoma spot.
5. Blood Tests: some blood tests are required to measure lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) before treatment. Other tests like blood chemistry levels and blood cell counts may require.
Treatments for Melanoma
1. Melanoma Surgery: At the beginning of melanoma, surgery is the only curable treatment. This type of surgery is performed in the office of a dermatologist where the doctor numbs the skin with local anesthesia. Then the experienced doctor extirpates melanoma and margins.
2. Lymphadenectomy: If your melanoma has spread, the doctor will remove the lymph nodes near the primary site. This may prevent the further spread of cancer.
3. Metastasectomy: This type of procedure removes small melanoma bits from organs.
4. Targeted Therapy: In this type of treatment, some particular types of drugs are used to kill cancer cells. This targeted therapy only affects your cancerous cells without hurting your healthy cells.
5. Radiation Therapy: Under this treatment, high-frequency rays are used to kill cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors.
6. Immunotherapy: Your own immune system helps to combat cancer.