What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a malignant tumor that is formed by pigment cells called melanocytes. They have the unique ability to produce the pigment melanin and can be found in the skin, mucous membranes, eyes, adrenal gland and brain. Melanoma has a particular tendency to metastasize in its initial stage of development.

The result of this spread is often premature death. The incidence of this type of cancer is increasing exponentially and is the most common cause of death from skin disease.

What are the symptoms?

Melanoma most often occurs in normal skin, but can also occur from a benign melanocytennevus – a birthmark or mole.

Identifiers for potentially malignant pigmented lesions are most easily remembered by the first 5 letters of the English alphabet:

  • A – asymmetry from “Asymmetry”;
  • B – change in borders from “Border”;
  • C – changes in pigmentation from “Color”;
  • D – diameter greater than 0.6 cm from “Diameter”;< /li>
  • E – change in size or shape from “Evolution” ;

Melanoma can become inflamed and bleed and occasionally the lesions to itch and cause severe burning – it feels like your skin is burning.

In short, melanomas are most often pigmented, asymmetrical in color and shape, and tend to enlarge or change over time. The presence or absence of hair follicles is irrelevant.

What are the causes of melanoma?

Like most cancers, it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

It is widely believed that UV rays cause melanocyte mutations and this is the main factor that causes skin melanomas.

But the fact that they also appear on parts of the body that are not exposed to sunlight. Genes have been identified that predispose some people to melanoma.

Treatment of melanoma

Treatment begins with establishing the stage of melanoma. In the first stage, the lesions are thin and there are no metastases, and the prognosis for a complete cure is very good.

The surgical removal of the tumor tissue is carried out by removing a certain part of the healthy tissue. Larger tumors or those that have metastasized are much more difficult to treat.

For melanomas that are in an intermediate stage and there is no evidence that the tumor has spread, a biopsy of the lymph nodes around the tumor is done and a diagnosis is made to what extent the disease has progressed.

During this procedure, a dye is injected and the local lymph nodes that supply the tumor are traced.

Once identified, they are removed and examined by a pathologist to see if the melanoma has spread to them. The absence of metastases in them is a good sign.

Once metastases have spread to the lymph nodes around melanomas or other tissues, treatment becomes increasingly difficult and complicated, and a cure is rarely achieved.

In such cases, treatment consists of lymphatic dissection in the tumor area, interferon injections, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and systemic chemotherapy.

How to protect yourself?

Prevention of melanoma and other types of skin cancer is extremely important, as these diseases can have serious health consequences and even be fatal.

  • Regular Skin Checks: Regular skin self-checks are essential to detect unusual changes or new birthmarks. If you notice any suspicious changes, consult a dermatologist immediately.
  • Professional examinations: Regular preventive examinations by a dermatologist are also important, especially if you have a higher risk of melanoma due to a family predisposition or fair skin type.
  • Avoid the sun during peak hours: The sun’s rays are most intense between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Try to avoid long periods of sun exposure during this interval or protect yourself with sunscreen and clothing.
  • Use of sunscreen: Choose broad-spectrum sunscreens with a high SPF and apply them liberally to your skin, especially when exposed to the sun. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear appropriate clothing: Long-sleeved and hooded clothing, as well as a wide-brimmed hat, can provide additional protection. skin protection.
  • Eye and head protection: Wearing sunglasses with UV protection is also important, as the eyes and the skin around them are also susceptible to damage from the sun’s radiation .
  • Avoid sunbeds and artificial UV sources: This type of exposure to ultraviolet light also increases the risk of melanoma.
  • Healthy lifestyle : Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet and regular exercise, can improve your overall health and support your immune system.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D has an important role in immune function and skin health. Taking at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily can be helpful, but always check with your health care professional before starting a supplement.

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