Melanoma

Skin Cancer in its Deadliest Form

By Emme Jasnowski and Emily Pelkey

What is Skin Cancer?

Malignant Melanoma, according to Science in Context, is one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer. It is rooted in the Melonocyte cell. This cell is responsible for producing pigmentation/melanin. This is what allows for different skin tones. What is dangerous about this cancer is that it can spread to other organs and damage them.

What are the Symptoms? How does it Impact the People it Affects?

There are thousands of people each year who are diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma, so its important to see the signs. The most common way to tell if one has M.M is to use the ABCDE rule:


- Asymmetry (uneven shape of a mole)

- Border (The border of the mole is irregular)

- Color ( The color is outside the normal brown/tan, Ex. red, white)

- Diameter (If the diameter is larger than 6-7mm)

- Evolution (the overall change in the mole)


Just like with any cancer, your whole life is turned upside down. People with cancer may begin to feel emotional changes when they begin their treatment, during and after the process. The American Cancer Society states that even their normal daily life will be drastically affected by their treatment. If they have children, they might need an extra hand to take care of them because they can't beat this cancer alone. Their social life and work life will also change, they might be too sick to go into work and their friends might act differently towards them, knowing that they have cancer.

How Prevelant is This Cancer?

Melanoma is one of the most deadliest forms of skin cancer. It makes up 75% of all skin cancer deaths in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2015, there is an estimate for 42,670 men and 31,200 women that are going to be diagnosed. The expected amount of deaths due to Melanoma in 2015 are 6,640 men and 3,300 women. Although men and women already have a significant difference in who will get Melanoma, the Caucasian population is particularly susceptible. This is due to their production rate of melanin.

How is it Diagnosed?

The most common way to diagnose whether or not someone has Melanoma skin cancer is to start out by using the ABCDE rule. If this gives that person enough suspicion, they will go to their doctor. The first thing a doctor will usually do, is to take the medical history of the patient. This way, the doctor knows if Melanoma is in the patients family. Then, the doctor will do a physical exam. The doctor will pretty much use the ABCDE rule, but in a more professional manner. If the doctor has reasonable suspicion that the patient may have cancer, a piece of the suspected skin will be sent to a lab for testing. This is called a Skin Biopsy.

What are possible causes of this type of cancer?

UV rays are the most common cause as to why people suffer from melanoma. These rays can cause damage to the DNA, if the DNA is damaged enough it will affect how the cells work and do there job, when DNA is damaged the cells can begin to grow in an unconductly way and more and more cells will form and it will be and overload of cells. Most moles do not have a gene in them that can cause it to become melanoma, but some do. It is a certain gene in the cell that morphs the cell into melanoma, causing it to become cancerous.

What are treatments or cures?

In the first and second stage of melanoma it is treated with a surgery that removes a small section of skin. the amount of skin removed changes the healing period. The sage 3 melanoma requires the removal of the tumor, a swelling of a part of the body. Vaccines or other drugs, even therapy will increase the chances of the cancer not coming back. Stage 5 melanoma is the hardest to cure. The cancer has already spread to the rest of the body by now. It can try to be treated with radiation therapy or some of the same treatments from stage 3.

Video Description (Watch 0:00 to 2:35)

This video shows the process in which melanoma skin cancer is developed in a step by step process. It starts out in the Melonocyte cell, and shows how, if the cell cannot repair, it mutates and can cause cancer.
From Melanocyte to Melanoma

What happens at the cellular and molecular level?

The Cellular level is a 2 step process involving tumor initiation and tumor progression. Tumor initiation is a genetic alteration that leads to the abnormality of a cell. Tumor progression is that process continued but it happens in the tumor population.


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