Most people will have heard of Melanoma, and automatically link it with skin cancer. This though is often the limit of most people’s knowledge. Surprisingly enough it is one of the rarest forms of skin cancer but is also one of the most deadly forms.
Melanoma comes about from an unwanted growth of melanocytes, which are pigment cells. It is an especially dangerous form of skin cancer as it makes up three quarters of all skin cancer deaths each and every year. This equates to about fifty thousand deaths every year, out of one hundred and sixty thousand cases diagnosed globally each year. Melanoma is predominantly found in Caucasian males, especially those who live in sunny climates, although it is not unknown for it to be diagnosed in other racial groups.
Even amongst Caucasian males it is possible to minimize risks of having Melanoma, and is as simple as avoiding ultraviolet forms of radiation, be it from direct sunlight or the use of sun beds. If out in the sun then plenty of sun screens should be applied and protective clothing should be worn, things like long sleeve t-shirts and trousers.
It is possible to undertake a limited form of self diagnosis if you feel that there is a chance that you have Melanoma. This normally involves the following of an ABCDE mnemonic; Asymmetrical mole (irregular shaped), Border irregular, Color – multiple colored mole, Diameter – large moles over half a centimeter are considered to be at greater risk, Evolution – the changing shape and color of a mole.
If you think you may have Melanoma then a trip to the doctors is recommended, as surgery to remove the cells can be scheduled if required. Most doctors will have some training in identifying Melanoma and will pass you to a specialist if needed.
The treatment for Melanoma is normally the removal of the tumor and then some form of chemo or radiation therapy to kill off any remaining cancerous cells. Melanoma isn’t just a form of skin cancer though as it can also be found as a tumor of melanocytes in the eye or bowel as well.
It is something that should have more publicity and many annual deaths from Melanoma could be avoided with early diagnosis. There has been much done in recent year to highlight the dangers of sunbathing without providing information about what the actual signs are. Early diagnosis of Melanoma, as with any disease, is the best way to prevent any serious consequences.