Melanoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the skin cells called melanocytes (cells that color the skin).
Melanoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the skin cells called melanocytes (cells that color the skin).


Malignant Melanoma

The Facts about Melanoma:
Most dangerous form of skin cancer
  • -once it grows to a certain thickness, it metastasizes throughout the body
  • -after melanoma has spread to the internal organs there is little that can be done and death follows shortly after
 Originates in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal
layer of the epidermis
 Melanomas often resemble moles
  • -majority of melanomas are black or brown
  • - can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white
 Caused by intense or occasional exposure to UV rays and abnormal growth of melanocytes
Statistics:
Melanoma kills an estimated 8,790 people in the US annually
The American Cancer Society estimates that at present, about 120,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed in a year
In 2010, about 68,130 of these were invasive melanomas, with about 38,870 in males and 29,260 in women.
Warning Signs/Diagnosis:
The Ugly Duckling Method:
  • - the melanoma is an "ugly duckling" compared to the surrounding moles
  • - the patients "normal" moles should resemble each other while the "ugly duckling" may look or feel different
The ABCDEs of Melanoma:
  • - A – Asymmetry- the mole is not symmetrical
  • - B – Border- the border of the mole are uneven, scalloped, or notched
  • - C – Color- the mole has multiple colors
  • - D – Diameter- it is larger than ¼ of an inch
  • - E – Evolving- changes in size, shape, elevation or any new symptoms point to danger
 If any moles look suspicious go to the doctor. The doctor will perform a biopsy and then send the sample to the pathologist who will determine if the cancer is melanoma. If it is melanoma then a surgeon performs a sentinel lymph node biopsy to see if the cancer has spread and then the surgeon will remove the whole tumor. Then an oncologist will provide further treatments.
 The melanoma is then treated with surgery, gene therapy, radiation therapy, laser therapy, chemical peeling, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, or clinical trial treatments
Types of Melanoma:
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Superficial Spreading Melanoma:
  • -most common type, accounting for 70 percent of all cases
  • -most often seen in young people
  • -this melanoma grows along the top layer of the skin for a fairly long time before penetrating more deeply
  • -can be found anywhere on body, most likely occur on the trunk in men, the legs in women, and the upper back in both
Lentigo Maligna:
  • -similar to superficial spreading melanoma
  • -remains close to the skin surface for quite a while
  • -type of in situ melanoma
  • -most often seen in elderly people and most common form of melanoma in Hawaii
  • -can be found on the face, ears, arms and upper trunk
Acral lentiginous melanoma:
  • -spreads superficially before penetrating more deeply
  • -usually appears as a black or brown discoloration under the nails, on the soles of the feet, and on the palm of the hand
  • -advances more quickly than Lentigo and Supeficial Sreading Melanoma
  • -most common form of melanoma in African-Americans and Asians
  • -least common form in Caucasians
Nodular Melanoma:
  • -usually invasive when it is first diagnosed
  • -most commonly found on the trunk, legs, arms, as well as the scalp in men
  • -most aggressive of the melanomas
  • -accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all cases
Prevention:
Reducing sun exposure:
  • -Seek shade
  • -Cover up with clothing
  • -Apply 1 ounce of sunscreen before going outside
 Avoid using a tanning booth or a tanning bed
 Be aware of your moles and look for any atypical moles
  • -Seek your physician every year for a skin exam
 People with lighter skin, hair, and eye color are at an increased risk
 Know your family history:
  • -About one in every 10 patients diagnosed with the disease has a family member with a history of melanoma
  • -Each person with a first-degree relative diagnosed with melanoma has a 50 percent greater chance of developing the disease
Resources:
http://www.melanoma.com/
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/melanoma/DS00439
http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma