What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It originates from skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells that produce melanin and form the color of the skin.

Only 1% of skin cancers are melanoma. Melanoma is often called malignant melanoma or cutaneous melanoma.

Melanoma responds well to treatment if detected at an early stage. However, if not detected early, it spreads to other parts of the body very easily.

What are the stages of melanoma?

Cancer staging is important for deciding where the cancer is, how far it will progress, and what the treatment will be. Depending on the stage, the cancer can mix with the blood and spread to the lymph nodes.

Stage 0

  • The patient has abnormal melanocytes. But they only find it in the outer layer of the skin. This stage is also called melanoma in situ.

stage 1

  • 1A: There is a tumor smaller than 1 mm. It does not cause wounds, does not show ulceration.

  • 1B: Tumor less than 1mm but scarred. Or it is between 1-2 mm and did not make a wound.

stage 2

  • 2A: The tumor is between 1-2 mm and scarred. Or it is between 2-4 mm and has not made a wound.

  • 2B: The tumor is between 2-4 mm and has scarred. Or it is larger than 4mm and did not cause a wound.

  • 2C: The tumor is larger than 4 mm and scarred.

stage 3

At this stage, the tumor may be of any size, may or may not be scarred. However, at least 1 of the following findings should also be seen.

  • Cancer that has spread to the lymph node

  • Cancer detected in the lymphatic vessel between the tumor and the nearest lymph node

  • Finding a new tumor over 2 cm different from the first tumor found

stage 4

Cancer has spread throughout the body. Involvement of soft tissues, bones and internal organs is observed.

What are the symptoms of melanoma?

Early symptoms may include changes in an existing mole or a bump of newly growing skin that did not exist before.

If the melanoma cells continue to produce melanoma, the tumor cells may be brown or black. If there is no melanin production, the tumor may be pink or skin-colored.

Findings that raise the suspicion of melanoma in a mole

  • Asymmetry

  • Irregular borders

  • color change

  • greater than 0.5 cm

  • It can be considered a change from normal.

Melanomas most commonly occur in areas where the skin is heavily exposed to the sun. These regions

  • Chest and back in men

  • legs in women

  • Neck

  • It can be counted as a hundred.

What causes melanoma?

Normally, newly produced skin cells replace dead cells. If there is DNA damage in melanocytes, new cell production becomes uncontrolled. Growing cells come together and form a tumor.

It is unclear what causes DNA damage. However, UV light exposure and genetic predisposition are blamed.

Genetic: People of white skin color have a 2.5 times higher risk of melanoma than brunettes.

Age : The risk of melanoma increases with age. The mean age at diagnosis is 63. However, melanoma is still the most common skin cancer in young adults.

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