Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It begins in the melanocytes or pigment cells of the skin. While all ethnic groups have melanocytes and you might think that individuals with the most pigment would get more melanomas, the opposite is true. An increase in the number of pigment cells actually provides protection from sun exposure which is one of the key factors that contribute to developing melanoma.
Melanomas are also sometimes referred to as Malignant Melanoma or, Cutaneous Melanoma.
Where do Melanomas occur? What are its causes? Why is it becoming so common these days? Increased exposure to UV light and increased intensity of UV light from ozone effect on the environment is thought to play a major part in melanoma becoming more common. The highest incidence of skin cancer in the world is in Australia which is thought to be related to an ozone hole that allows high intensity sunlight to get through at dangerous levels so that skin cancer development is much more common. .
- Sunlight(Ultraviolet Radiation)- UV radiations are claimed to be the most common cause of Melanoma. The Ultra Violet radiations damage the DNA. And when the cells undergo DNA damage, the new cells that form might get out of control and gradually, may form a cluster of deadly, cancerous cells
- Sunburn- If you have are prone to getting sunburns easily, the chances of your getting. One severe sunburn before the age of 20 is thought to double the risk of skin cancer later in life. Melanoma is very high. You need to take care of your skin as much as possible. Always apply sunscreen lotions whenever you go in the sun.
- Tanning Beds – tanning increases the biologic activity of pigment cells to produce more pigment. As part of that process cells with malignant potential can be stimulated too. Recent studies have shown that indoor tanning before the age of 25 increases the risk of developing melanoma. Melanoma is now the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old. The increased popularity of indoor tanning by adolescents and young adults is thought to have a direct correlation with melanoma becoming more common.l
Melanomas can occur on any part of the skin that has pigment cells. In men, melanoma commonly occurs at the back and in women, melanoma commonly occurs on the legs. Facial Area and Neck are some other common sites. Melanomas can likewise affect different parts of our body, for example, the eyes, mouth, anal and pubic area. However these are considerably less regular than melanoma of the skin. In individuals with more pigmented skin such as African Americans and Asians, melanomas occur more commonly on mucous membrane surfaces as well as the palms and soles for example.
Melanoma is a very dangerous type of skin cancer, so early detection and treatment is the key. If Melanoma is detected and treated in its early stage, it is almost always possible to remove it. The only good thing about melanoma is that if it is detected and treated in its early stages, the chances for long-term, cancer-free survival are the best. But once it starts to spread to the other parts of the body, it become very deadly, almost incurable. According to a survey by the American Cancer Society, Melanoma describes merely 4% of all skin cancer cases but is responsible for79% of all skin cancer-related deaths.
If you have a mole that you are concerned about, see your dermatologist to get it checked out early and make sure that it is diagnosed and treated appropriately.