Melanoma â€“ Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Melanoma – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. Melanoma can also form in your eyes and, rarely, inside your body, such as in your nose or throat.
The exact cause of all melanomas isn't clear, but exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds increases your risk of developing melanoma. Limiting your exposure to UV radiation can help reduce your risk of melanoma.
Melanomas can develop anywhere on your body. They most often develop in areas that have had exposure to the sun, such as your back, legs, arms and face.
Melanomas can also occur in areas that don't receive much sun exposure, such as the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and fingernail beds. These hidden melanomas are more common in people with darker skin.
The first melanoma signs and symptoms often are:
- A change in an existing mole
- The development of a new pigmented or unusual-looking growth on your skin
Melanoma doesn't always begin as a mole. It can also occur on otherwise normal-appearing skin.
Melanoma occurs when something goes wrong in the melanin-producing cells (melanocytes) that give color to your skin.
Normally, skin cells develop in a controlled and orderly way — healthy new cells push older cells toward your skin's surface, where they die and eventually fall off. But when some cells develop DNA damage, new cells may begin to grow out of control and can eventually form a mass of cancerous cells.
UV light doesn't cause all melanomas, especially those that occur in places on your body that don't receive exposure to sunlight. This indicates that other factors may contribute to your risk of melanoma.
A history of sunburn
Excessive ultraviolet (UV) light exposure
Living closer to the equator or at a higher elevation
Having many moles or unusual moles
A family history of melanoma
Weakened immune system
- Avoid the sun during the middle of the day
- Wear sunscreen year-round
- Wear protective clothing
- Avoid tanning lamps and beds
- Become familiar with your skin so that you'll notice changes
Treatment for small melanomas
Treating melanomas that have spread beyond the skin
- Surgery to remove affected lymph nodes.
- Targeted therapy.
- Radiation therapy
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