Melanoma Cancer

By: Philip Bolle

Cancer

Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues.

Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

When cancer develops, however, this orderly process breaks down. As cells become more and more abnormal, old or damaged cells survive when they should die, and new cells form when they are not needed. These extra cells can divide without stopping and may form growths called tumors.

Melanoma Cancer

Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color.

What part of the body does it affect?

75% of all skin cancer deaths are from malignant melanoma. People of all types and colors of skin have the chance to get this disease but it is most commonly found among fair-skinned people. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, so it’s generally affects the human body parts that are covered by skin. It may also be likely to spread to lymph nodes and internal organs. Melanomas can also occur in areas that don't receive much sun exposure, such as the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and fingernail beds. These hidden melanomas are more common in people with darker skin.

What causes this cancer?

The two types of UV rays that cause melanoma are UV-A and UV-B rays. UV-A rays are fairly constant throughout the year, and contribute to aging and wrinkling of the skin.

The effects of the melanoma cancer

Sometimes they develop from a mole with concerning changes including an increase in size, irregular edges, change in color, itchiness, or skin breakdown.

The symptoms of the melanoma cancer

Unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, markings, or changes in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of melanoma or another type of skin cancer, or a warning that it might occur.

Treatment and survival rate for people with this type of disease

The first step in treatment is the removal of the melanoma, and the standard method of doing this is by surgical excision (cutting it out). The five-year survival rate is 98%. The five-year survival rates for melanoma that has spread to the nearby lymph nodes or to other parts of the body are 63% and 16% respectively.