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Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the cells that produce melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives the skin its color. This disease can also develop in the eyes and also in other parts of the body, such as the intestines and so on. In women, this disease most commonly occurs on the legs, and sometimes on the back. The primary cause of this disease is ultraviolet radiation, especially in individuals with low levels of skin pigment. The ultraviolet radiation may be from sources such as the sun, tanning devices and so on. Studies have shown that 25% of melanoma develops from moles. Persons with may moles, a history of affected family members, and a poor immune function has a high risk of developing the disease. There is some disease that could also lead to the formation of melanoma. Some of them include xeroderma pigmentosum. Physicians diagnose this disease based on the signs and symptoms of the patient. s

Biopsy and the analysis of the skin lesion are also ways of diagnosing this disease. Some of the ways of preventing the development of this disease include the use of sunscreen and avoiding ultraviolet radiation. The treatment procedure involves surgery. Individuals with slightly larger cancers, nearby lymph nodes may be tested for spread. Persons whose melanoma didn’t spread are easier to treat, as compared to those whom melanoma has spread. Those in whom melanoma has spread are treated with immunotherapy, biologic therapy, radiation or chemotherapy. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and is more common in men than in women.

Is Early Screening The Answer To The Rise Of Melanoma?

The early detection and recognition of skin cancer are very important. Studies have shown that identifying the early warning signs of melanoma and carrying out regular self-examinations of your skin might help in finding melanoma early when the disease is still curable.

Your physicians may recommend medical tests based on your risk factors and medical history. This is why it’s important to go for regular screening, especially individuals that have high-risk factors.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Melanoma?

Melanoma can occur on any part of the body. They mostly occur in parts of the body that has exposure to the sun, such as the back, legs, arms and face.

Although this condition mostly occurs in parts of the body that is exposed to sunlight, it also affects areas of the body that don’t receive much sun exposure. Examples of these places include the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and fingernail beds. These hidden melanomas are more prevalent in people with darker skin. Some of the first signs and symptoms of this condition include the following:

  • A change in an existing mole.
  • The development of a new pigmented growth on the skin.

                 When Is It Important To See A Physician?

It’s important to book an appointment with your physician if you notice any skin changes that looks unusual.

             What Are The Causes Of Melanoma?

Melanoma develops when something goes wrong in the melanin-producing cells of the skin. Ideally, skin cells form in a controlled and orderly way, however, healthy new cells push older cells toward the skin’s surface, where they die and eventually fall off. However, when some cells develop DNA damage, new cells may start growing out of control and can eventually develop into a mass of cancerous cells. Below are some of the common causes of melanoma:

  • Ultraviolet radiation: Exposure to a huge amount of ultraviolet radiations is one of the most common causes of melanoma. In addition to this, people who make use of tanning beds have a significant risk of developing the disease. Melanoma occurs in the lower extremities in women, while on the back in men.
  • Genetics: There are some uncommon mutations which often run in families that increase the risk of developing melanoma. This is one of the most common causes of melanoma and can be passed from parents to their children. These mutations significantly increase the risk of developing the disease. A common example of a gene that could lead to the development of melanoma is the MC1R gene. Individuals with far ski and low amount of melanin are more predisposed to developing melanoma. This is why melanoma is more prevalent in individuals with fair skin.

              What Are The Risk Factors Of Melanoma?

There are some factors that increase the risk of developing melanoma. Some of the factors include the following:

  • Fair skin: Fair skinned individuals do have a low amount of melanin in their skin. This implies that they have less protection from damaging ultraviolet radiation. Persons that have blond, red hair, light-coloured eyes, or that develops sunburn easily are more likely to develop melanoma.
  • Sunburn history: Individuals with a history of sunburn are more prone to developing melanoma
  • Family history: Persons with a family history of melanoma have a greater chance of developing melanoma as compared to those without any history of the disease.
  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation: Individuals with high exposure to ultraviolet radiation are more predisposed to develop melanoma.
  • Moles: An individual with more than 50 moles on the body has a high risk of melanoma.
  • Immune system: the Immune system has an important role to play in the development of melanoma. People with a weak immune system, are at a higher risk of developing melanoma

                  How To Prevent Melanoma?

Below are some of the ways of reducing the risk of developing melanoma:

  • Wear sunscreen: One of the most effective ways of preventing melanoma is by wearing sunscreen all year round. Sunscreens help in filtering out harmful ultraviolet radiations since they can lead to the development of melanoma.
  • Wear protective clothing: Sunscreens don’t provide complete protection from ultraviolet radiation. This is why it’s important to wear clothes that cover the skin, especially when the temperature is really high.

                                            Treatment Of Melanoma

Early stage melanoma can be treated with surgery. This would be efficient if cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. However, in cases where the melanoma has metastasized, then other treatment procedures would be recommended. This would usually include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and so on.

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Anon, (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.melanoma.org/understand-melanoma/what-is-melanoma [Accessed 28 Feb. 2018].

Arenberger, P. (2010). Current approaches in melanoma screening. Melanoma Research, 20, p.e17.

Bauer, J. (2010). Molecular epidemiology of melanoma. Melanoma Research, 20, p.e8.