Melanocytes are cells that make up the melanin or pigment of our skin and when cancer cells develop in the melanocytes, it causes a skin disease which is known as melanoma. The melanin that melanocytes produce gives color also to the eyes, hair and moles.
Most cases of melanoma affects the skin which causes skin cancer. Brown or black are the common color it produces onto the skin. It is also called malignant melanoma and can be cured when diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
There is no distinct reason for this skin disease, however, there are studies that reasoned out that the UV rays from the sunlight is the major cause for it. The reduction of the antioncogene, which can be a mutation, is another related cause of melanoma, as well as over-exposure in sun beds.
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Any irregularities or changes of the feature on moles, like its color and shape, is one sign that dermatologists suspect of melanoma. It can be examine thoroughly through dermoscopy whereby the pigment of skin lesions or moles are evaluated clearly to detect melanoma. The affected skin lesion looks the same like that of a unaffected mole.
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There are various medical ways to treat melanoma. The most common would be radiation and medication. Doctors in various fields like the neurologist, general surgeon, surgical oncologist and neurosurgeon also contribute to the treatment. The melanoma can also be treated through chemotherapy and application of imiquimod, a topical cream that serves as immune enhancer, to lentigo maligna melanoma which is a superficial type of melanoma.
It is vital for people to visit a doctor or dermatologist if they suspect any changes of their skin lesions. To be able to understand further about melanoma, it is important to know about the types and whether it is localized or invasive.
The most prevailing melanoma is the superficial spreading type which accounted to 70% of the skin disease cases reported. This targets young aged individuals and is considered as invasive. Before it invades into the skin, it grows and stays first at the top layer for a long period of time.
The lentigo maligna is another type but is quite the same to superficial spreading. It starts off at the skin surface for a period of time as a flat or slightly elevated, pigmented skin lesion as either brown or dark brown. This localized melanoma often affects the older group of people and is due to long exposure to the sun, skin damages on the arms, face and ears. When the lentigo maligna turns into an invasive type, it becomes a melanoma.
The acral lentiginous melanoma is also another type that spreads first superficially before becoming invasive. This disease appears as a black or brown discoloration at the sole of the feet or sole of the palms, and also under the nails. This seldom happens to Caucasions but prevalent to darker skinned people like African-American and Asians.
Another type is the nodular melanoma and it is recognized when the black lesion turns into a bump. The lesion can also be in color red, brown, white or gray. Unlike the other three, this type of melanoma is diagnosed instantly as invasive, and is known to be the most aggressive type. This is the only melanoma that is detected directly as the invasive type. The affected group of people are the older ones and it usually appears on the legs, arms and trunks.
In some cases, melanoma is hereditary. Melanoma must be treated early by the doctor or dermatologist.