Melanoma is a skin disease condition in which malignant tumor is formed that is originated from melanocytes and they bring melanin. Melanomas are black or brown in color and in some cases they stop producing pigments and so the color changes to pink, skin colored, and sometimes even red.
Melanomas are form of cancerous tumor and they can be in situ or invasive. In situ means localized and invasive are the one that spread everywhere. Therefore, the invasive forms are much more difficult to treat. Melanomas are of four types namely nodular melanoma, acral lentiginous melanoma, lentigo maligna, and superficial spreading melanoma. Along them the last three are the melanomas that occur mainly on the superficial layer of the skin. They remain on the top layer for much of the time before becoming invasive. The most aggressive form of melanoma is the nodular type. It is invasive from the beginning. It is mostly found in arms, trunk, legs, and scalp region.
Monitoring of the melanoma is to be done at regular intervals. One should go for regular follow-up checkups. Firstly the entire skin surface should be examined properly including hands, feet, genitalia, nailbeds, and the web spaces. While monitoring the extremities of the women should be checked properly and the trunk of the men as melanoma is likely to occur in those regions. Monitoring is done by ABCDE method for spotting the tumor where A stands for asymmetry, B for border, C for color, D for diameter, and E for enlargement. It has been widely used method but research has shown that it is not a reliable method. One of the methods is visual inspection. More advanced techniques have come into existence like the total body photography by using digital camera and even digital video recording. In this method the whole body is recorded or photographed and the tumors are compared with the previous photographs available to them.
The other two widely used methods are skin surface microscopy and machine vision. Skin surface microscopy is done through high powered magnification lens and the machine vision technology scans the person’s body and gives the score for each nevus. Based on the scores, characteristic of melanoma can be found out. The other technique is TA-90, tumor marker method, in which blood test is studied.
Chest x-ray done yearly also proves to be helpful in detecting the recurrence of the disease. Regular visit to the dermatologist is also recommended. Comprehensive skin examinations and regular follow up plays the most essential part in controlling the melanoma.