Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and has been spreading like wild fire over the last decade. It is curable, but for melanoma treatment to be fully effective, early diagnosis is imperative. Melanoma treatment may take the form of surgery, chemotherapy in early stages, and biological or radiation therapies in extreme cases.
Melanoma takes on four forms. Both superficial spreading melanoma, the most common form accounting for 70% of all melanoma cases and lentigo maligna begin as flat or elevated irregularly shaped tan, brown or black patches.
Both these forms of skin cancer begin as localized tumors, but left untreated, they penetrate deeper and spread to other parts of the body. Acral lentiginous melanoma is a superficial melanoma common amongst Asians and African-Americans.
Nodular melanoma is the most severe form, beginning as invasive cancer and when malignant, shows a lump. It accounts for 10-15% of melanoma cases.
Prevention is always better than cure. Melanoma can be prevented by reducing the sun exposure, especially between 10am and 4pm with adequate clothing and sun blocks with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Children are vulnerable to sunrays and it has been proved that juvenile sunburns greatly increase the risk of adult melanoma.
Melanoma remedy is most effective in the early stages. This means that you should be aware and alert about every symptom of the disease.
You should be especially concerned about your existing moles changing shape or color and of course, new ones appearing unexpectedly. Typical melanoma moles are lop-sided with irregular borders. Advanced melanoma moles have swellings, oozing, itching or bleeding.
Melanoma remedy varies according to the progression of the disease. Actinic Keratoses or sun damage leading to skin cancer can be treated by laser resurfacing, TCA peels or the application of Efudex cream.
In the early stages, surgery to remove the tumor and the adjacent healthy tissues is effective enough to destroy the metastatic cancer cells. The amount of tissue removed depends upon the spread of the cancerous growth.
Surgical melanoma remedy may also involve a skin graft to replenish the lost tissues. If the melanoma spreads to the lymph nodes, surgery may also involve removal of these.
Advanced melanoma treatment includes chemotherapy. This either involves the use of cancer drugs in capsule form or intravenous injections to kill the cancer cells.
Biological and radiation therapies are the last bastions of melanoma treatment. In the former, laboratory-generated cancer-combating substances called biological response, modifiers (BRMs) like tumor vaccines, interleukin-2, or interferon-alfa are administered to the melanoma patient.
Radiation therapy involves the use of x-rays to destroy cancer cells that have spread throughout the body. This form of melanoma treatment can last several sessions. Its side effects include topical redness, dryness and rashes, which disappear over time. However, changes in skin color and texture may occur after a few years.
Melanoma treatment should be undergone only under strict medical guidance to ensure complete remedy and prevent a recurrence.