Medical Dictionary of Bone Cancer

C A N C E R  I N F O R M A T I O N

Skin Cancer Melanoma

Skin cancer melanoma is a cancerous or malignant tumor that begins in the melanocytes. This is where cells produce skin coloring or protective pigment called melanin. Melanin helps protect the deep layers of skin from the sun rays. Skin cancer melanoma cells will still produce melanin, but they will grow out of control. This is one reason that most skin cancer melanoma is different shades of black, brown or tan skin cells.

Luckily, skin cancer melanoma is usually curable in its early stages. However, in later stages, skin cancer melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. When this happens the chances of being cured are far less.

Skin cancer melanoma can affect any part of the body. It can start near or in a mole or any dark spot on the skin. It is good that individuals become very familiar with their skin, how it looks, its patterns, beauty marks and freckles. By paying close attention to all of these details people should be able to notice if any changes start to take place in the skin.

While skin cancer melanoma can occur anywhere, it commonly occurs on the backs of men and the legs of women. Skin cancer melanoma is known for its pigmented lesion of various shades, its irregular surface and border. Warning signs that you should watch our for in regards to skin cancer melanoma is any mole or spot that is irregularly patterned or colored, any irregularity in the border or an area that is asymmetrical, or any area that is growing or becoming larger.

Individuals who are a lot of moles are at the highest risk of developing skin cancer melanoma. People who are light complected and have fair skin who burn easily are also at risk for developing skin cancer melanoma. It is thought the UV rays from the sun are the cause of skin cancer melanoma.

If you suspect you have skin cancer melanoma your doctor will examine it. If he or she agrees that you may have the cancer you will be referred to a specialist. The mole that is showing the cancer signs will be removed or biopsied. Once the mole is removed it will be examined under a microscope to see if it is indeed cancer.

If you are diagnosed with skin cancer melanoma you will have to undergo some form of cancer treatment. This can include surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. If surgery is required several parts of the skin may have to be removed. Radiation will involve using high energy rays to kill off the cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs will either be given intravenously or orally.

The best way to prevent skin cancer melanoma is through preventing it in the first place. People should avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight. If a person has to be outside in the sunlight they should wear protective clothing such as long sleeves and hats. They should also apply a sunscreen of at least 30 to their exposed skin areas.

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