Understanding Skin Cancer
Dr. Asmita Dhekne Chebbi
Btm 1st stage, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
The most dangerous disease that claims thousands of lives every year, Melanoma is a form of skin cancer.
Melanoma develops when the skin is exposed to harmful UV rays, which damages the DNA of skin cells.
How does melanoma develop?
This develops due to radiations and cause rapid multiplying of cells resulting in the formation of cancerous tumors. Melanin is the substance responsible for skin pigmentation and these malignant tumors develop in the melanin producing sites of the epidermis. These cancerous tumors often resemble moles and some even develop from them. They are usually black or brown but can be of other colors as well.
It is usually caused by occasional exposure to intense UV radiations causing sunburns. It is a genetically inclined disease that claims many lives every year although it is not the most common type of skin cancer.
If the cancer develops again in the same spot, it is called recurrent melanoma and has chances within the first 5 years post surgery.
Metastatic melanoma is when the cancer spreads beyond the skin and affects other parts of the body.
What are the visible symptoms of melanoma?
Moles are the symptoms of this cancer but it is not necessary that every mole that grows is cancerous.
The symptoms often referred to as the ABCDEs provide basic information
Asymmetry: two halves of the mole does not look similar
Border irregularity: the border of the mole is irregular and uneven
Color: the mole is unevenly colored and has many colors. Looks different from other moles.
Diameter: It is usually slightly big, about 6mm
Evolving: There are noticeable changes in the color, size and shape of the mole and sometimes even bleeding.
It is best to consult a doctor if you think you might have or are prone to melanoma.
How is melanoma treated?
In early stages, surgery is the best option. The tumor and area around it are removed depending on the intensity and depth of cancer.
In more advanced cases, in case of spreading to other parts, chemotherapy or other treatments are recommended.
If diagnosed in the early stages, melanoma can usually be cured by surgery but as the disease advances, complications increase.