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Skin cancer melanoma: Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Posted on- Oct 15, 2015
  • 459 Views

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that develops in the cells that produce the pigment that gives your skin its color- melanin. It is by far the most aggressive forms of skin cancer and can also form in your eyes and, uncommonly, in internal organs, such as your intestines.

The precise reason behind all melanomas is unclear, but persistent exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds increases your risk of developing melanoma. Restricting your exposure to UV rays can help reduce your risk of melanoma.

Melanoma skin cancer occurs in people over 40 years of age and especially in women.

Symptoms related to Melanoma skin cancer

Melanomas can appear anywhere on your body, mostly on the back, legs, arms and face which are directly exposed to harmful sun rays. They can also develop on less exposed areas such as soles of your feet, palms of your hands and fingernail beds. Signs and symptoms of melanoma skin cancer include:

  • Any change in size, color, shape, or texture of a mole or other skin growth
  • An open or inflamed skin wound that won't heal
  • A change in an existing mole
  • A small, dark, multicolored spot with irregular borders that may bleed
  • A cluster of shiny, firm, dark bumps
  • A mole larger than a pencil eraser
  • A flesh-colored oval bump with a rolled border, which may develop into a bleeding ulcer
  • A reddish, brown, or bluish black patch of skin on the chest or back
  • A firm, reddish, wart-like bump that grows gradually
  • A flat spot that becomes a bleeding sore that won't heal

Tests and diagnosis for Melanoma skin cancer

In order to check for melanomas, your skin specialist may:
  • Perform a physical examination of your skin.
  • Do a skin biopsy which involves taking a sample of your skin and have it tested for melanomas.
  • Examine your lymph nodes to see if they are unusual in any way. This may be followed by an examination to check whether melanomas have spread to the lymph system.
  • Use imaging tests like PET scan, CT scan, and MRI to see whether cancer has spread to other parts of your body, such as the lungs, brain, or liver.
  • Full body photography to look for changes in any mole and to watch for new moles appearing in normal skin.

Treatment for Melanoma skin cancer

Melanoma skin cancer can be effectively cured if it's found and treated in its early stages when its impact is limited to skin only. Several treatment options are there to cure melanoma skin cancer including:
  • A surgery where entire melanoma is removed along with a margin of normal-appearing skin.
  • Chemotherapy in which medicines are used to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy in which medicines are used to help your body's immune system fight the cancer.
  • Targeted therapy in which medicines are used to prevent cancer by blocking signals in the cell. The therapy is given only when a patient shows changed cell mutation.

Regular follow-up consultations are important after you have been diagnosed with melanoma. Follow guidelines from your skin doctor.