Skin Cancer (Melanoma)

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Overview

Melanoma is one of the most hazardous skin cancers. It is a cancer of the melanocytes – the cells in the skin responsible for making melanin (the pigment that gives skin its color). It is very important for the patient to be aware of the danger signs of melanoma, since it spreads to other parts of the body, after which the survival rate becomes very low.

Causes

Melanomas usually develop because of the following reasons and risk factors:

Symptoms

Melanomas present with either a change in the size, shape, color, and symmetry of an existing mole, or development of a new, but an unusual looking mole.

Some of the differences in melanoma moles, from normal moles, are listed below:

  • They are asymmetrical
  • They have irregular borders
  • They have changes in color
  • Their diameter is more than 6mm
  • They are evolving/changing – sometime later, other symptoms and signs could be associated with the mole, such as itchiness or bleeding

Diagnosis

Some of the following biopsy techniques are used to diagnose melanoma:

  • Punch biopsy
  • Incisional biopsy
  • Excisional biopsy

Treatment

Treatment for melanomas depends on the stage of the disease. The following are all part of the cancer treatment plan, used in combination:

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Biological therapy
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