Malignant melanoma is one type of skin cancer, which happens to begins in the skin’s ‘pigmentation system,’ i.e., in a common man’s terms, can be said skin layer which becomes tan in summer.
Melanomas typically start in the moles and even in areas that are of normal-looking skin. But there are rare cases wherein tumor has to begin in eyes, in the respiratory passage, in the intestine, or even in the brain.
Malignant melanoma is one such very perilous type of cancer, and a patient’s likelihood of survival often depends on it getting early discovered and getting treatment immediately.
Symptoms of Malignant melanoma:
- The color of tumors varies, that is from black to brown to orange to blue.
- The tumors are characterized by enclosing of ragged, irregular borders and edges, and they have uneven colors.
- Off-shots, crusts, sores, and even reddening can be seen in the area that’s surrounding the mole.
- The tumor resembles a ‘blood blister’ under the nail.
- The mole can itch and burn.
- Moles can start anywhere on the body but are usually located on the shoulders, the back, or the back of the legs.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT of Malignant Melanoma:
When there is a mole that is causing and showing any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, then you need to visit a dermatologist. Dermatologists begin the diagnosis by examination of the suspicious lesion on the patient’s skin. According to its visual examination, that will lead dermatologist, for suspecting any threat of melanoma or even if there is another type of skin cancer, or if there is some other skin disorder, the dermatologist will conduct a biopsy. This is only a way of knowing with certainty if a patient’s lesion is because of melanoma or any other type of skin disorder.
A simple procedure, which dermatologists can even perform in his office. To perform a test of biopsy, the dermatologist will first numb the respected area and then remove the entire lesion or a small portion of it, and then he will examine that tissues under a microscope. If any melanoma cells are seen under the microscope, dermatologists can use then diagnosis it to be the melanoma.
Treatment of the malignant melanoma usually begins after the biopsy report’s confirmation, and the dermatologist will then perform surgery by complete removal of the melanoma cells and, along with it, some of the normal-looking skin cells around the lesions or moles growth. Removal of normal-looking skin cells is essential as this helps to ensure complete removal of cancerous cells, and this removal of some normal-looking skin cells is called “taking margins.”
If detection of cancer has been in early-stage, surgical removal of all the cancerous cells will suffix as the treatment which is requisite. In the earliest stage, melanoma tumor is limited to the epidermis that is the outer layer of the skin. The dermatologist refers to this type of melanoma as called “melanoma in situ” or also as “stage 0.” In this initial stage of malignant melanoma, the curing rate, with the help of its treatment of just surgical removal, is reported to be almost a hundred percent.
Treating melanoma also depends on knowing which stage it is. If the stage of the cancer is higher and cancer has spread to other organs like the internal organs and lymph nodes, treatment needs to be more involved and much more then simple surgical removal.
Staging: Determining how much has cancer spread is called the staging.
Melanoma stages are:
Stage 0: in situ: Melanoma will be confined to the epidermis that is the top layer of skin.
Stage I-II: Melanoma is still confined to the skin, but there has been an increase in the thickness and skin can be ulcerated or intact, and the top layer of the skin is absent.
Stage III: Melanoma, in this stage, spreads to nearby lymph nodes and is found in an increasing amount within one or more lymph nodes.
Stage IV: Melanoma has now got spread to the internal organs that are beyond the closest lymph nodes and other lymph nodes, areas of the skin, which is far from the original tumor.
Tests for Staging melanoma:
That is ultrasound, x-ray, computed tomography (CT scan), positron emission tomography (PET scan), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and even radio-isotopic bone or the organ scan.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB):
Sometimes this surgical procedure is recommended for staging melanoma. When melanoma initially starts to spread, it often travels to the closest lymph nodes at first. An SLNB conducted will tell the doctor if the melanoma has been spread to any of the nearby lymph nodes.
Any of the tests indicates melanoma has been metastasized that is its spread to any of lymph nodes or to other areas in the body; then, treatment includes additional surgeries for removing cancer, with additional therapies like immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or even the clinical trials. Mostly in the advanced stages of malignant melanoma, the patients receive the combination of treatments.
FOLLOW-UP IS CRITICAL:
Following up with regular check-ups is very necessary as melanoma patients tend to have the life-long risk of developing new melanomas. This risk is in those cases where the melanoma was thick and had spread to the nearby lymph nodes before the patient got treatment, there can be risks of recurrence that is melanoma returns or metastasis, where the original melanoma does spread to the surrounding skin or maybe to other areas of the body.
Remember, earlier melanoma is detected; the better will be the prognosis. So remember, it’s essential to follow-up appointments with dermatologists. Be sure to keep up all appointments for your regular check-ups.
Your awareness can help with early detection:
- That is performing regular skin self-examinations.
- Make sure you have knowledge of warning signs of melanoma.
- Follow the ABCDE rules: notice any changing mole.
- Detect any warning signs of melanoma then see a dermatologist immediately.
Symptoms of Melanoma: Early detection is important
- Melanoma, a serious type of skin cancer, gets developed in melanocytes, cells that produce melanin i.e., a pigment that gives color to the skin. There are also rare very severe conditions of Melanoma, where the cancer is formed in the eyes and in internal organs, also like intestines. The cause of Melanoma is not known much, but it’s said to be caused due to exposure to Ultraviolet radiation.
- Knowing the symptoms of Melanoma, the warning signs of this skin cancer, is very helpful, as you will be able to notice the cancerous changes, detection of cancer will be early because of which the right treatment can be given on time and stopping the spread.
- As simple as ABCD, the symptoms of Melanoma are always referred to as ABCD, which is easy to recognize signs of Melanoma.
- Melanomas develop anywhere on the body. But the cases of Melanoma that have been reported that those areas of the body which get maximum exposure to the sun, such as legs, arms, back, and face, are more vulnerable to have the Melanoma. But also there have been other cases as well, where the areas of the body which are don’t receive much of sun’s exposure. For example, palms of our hands, soles of feet, and fingernail beds.
- The first signs of symptoms Melanoma are generally a change in a mole that is already present or even the development of new, unusual kind of looking; there is growth on the skin. But also a point to be melanoma can also be occurring on otherwise normal-looking skin mostly, though first signs of Melanoma are changed in the size, color, shape, and even the feel of the existing mole. Melanoma skin tends to have black or some black-blue area. Melanoma can also begin with the appearance of a new mole; it could be abnormal, black, or simply very ugly looking. The best thing always is to get your doctor’s opinion whenever there is something an unusual thing that happens to you and your skin.
- But the symptoms of ABCD are a small guide to help you with the detection and make you realize the need to visit the doctor immediately.
- A for Asymmetry:
- When there is a mole, the shape of one half of the mole doesn’t match another half, irregularity in shape that is one mole having two different halves.
- B for Border:
- The characteristics of melanomas moles have borders, or the edges are irregular, notched, ragged, blurred, or scalloped borders i.e., the pigment is spreading to the surrounding skin of the infected area or mole.
- C for color:
- Such changes on your skin, growths, etc. which have distinguishing and many uneven distributions of color; it has shades of brown, black, and tan also in between there are colored areas like grey, white, very pinkish, and blue may be seen.
- D is for Diameter:
- That is, the area keeps on increasing, and the size of infected skin increases, the mole that is growing and getting larger than about 6 millimeters of ¼ inch.
- Also, there is an adding of E in the symptoms of Melanoma that is evolving, that is, that mole is evolving with time in color, shape, size, etc., and has additional developments of signs.
Other changes in Moles that are suspicious are:
- Oozing or bleeding
- Spreading of the pigmentation in the surrounding area
- Change in the structure of the mole-like it may become hard or even lumpy.
- Melanomas vary greatly in their look and signs. They may show all the symptoms of ABCD features or however, may show some abnormalities and changes in one or two features of ABCD symptoms of Melanoma.
- Melanomas to be detected in an early stage can be found out by when the existing mole does change slightly. For example, when in the present mole a new black or brown area forms. Along with that, there may be developing of newly formed fine scales on that infected area and also itching in mole; these are also common symptoms for detecting early in melanoma. As the stage gets more advanced, melanoma texture of the mole may keep changing and increasing. For example, a mole tumor becomes either hard or even lumpy. More advanced tumors moles tend to become itchy and have fluids oozing, or may bleed. But its been observed that melanomas usually don’t cause any pain.
Melanomas vs. normal moles:
- Moles and freckles generally are black or brown, and they definitely have a very defined border or edge.
- Melanomas are usually though known to be multi-colored. That is, they have been showing signs of distinguishing color that combines different shades of black and brown; sometimes, they have surrounding areas as in colors of blue, red, or white.
- Melanomas usually have irregular edges or uneven border.
- Melanomas usually ooze fluids or blood, then crust or have clot over, and then again ooze or bleed and they don’t even heal. This is a sign that it could be cancer.
- Melanomas, as mentioned earlier, are known to develop also in those areas of the body that have no exposure or very little exposure to the sun. The body areas that are susceptible are the spaces between toes, on palms, soles of feet, on the scalp, and even on genitals. These melanomas are referred to as hidden melanomas coz these melanomas tend to occur in such a place, where most of the people wouldn’t even think of checking. Also, a recent study done on Melanomas reported that melanoma occurring in individuals with dark skin tones, there is more likeliness of them developing melanomas to be occurring in hidden areas.
Hidden melanomas include:
Melanoma under a nail:
- Subungual melanoma is a very rare form of melanomas that usually occurs under one nail, which is most often under the big toe or on the thumb. This rare type of hidden melanoma is common with black people and or other individuals who have darker skin pigments. The foremost indication of the subungual melanoma is typically a black or brown discoloration that if often been mistaken as a bruise called a hematoma. Therefore it is suggested that you must see a dermatologist if you observe a development of nail discoloration, which is increasing in size, and is spreading and involves the cuticle, and you may experience bleeding, and it doesn’t heal even after two months.
Melanoma in the mouth, digestive tract, urinary tract, or vagina:
- Mucosal melanoma is a hidden form of melanoma, developing in the mucous membrane, a thin, sticky substance like that lines the mouth, nose, esophagus, and event the genital organs like urinary tract, anus, and vagina. Mucosal melanomas are in particular difficult to become aware of or detect, that is because, and melanomas here are generally mistaken for other conditions, which are far more common than melanomas. For example, a melanoma when in a woman’s genital tract, which results in bleeding and itching, these are also the symptoms and signs that generally result in a woman die yeast infections or also happen due to menstrual irregularities. And even the symptoms of anorectal melanoma, are very similar to those symptoms that are caused by the hemorrhoids. The dentists are very much trained for spotting melanomas that can occur in the mouth. Also, regular pelvic examinations can help in the detection of melanomas if there is in the vagina.
Melanoma in the eye:
- This hidden melanoma is known as Ocular melanoma. In this type of melanoma, there is development in pigment-containing cells, which is in the back portion of the eye. That’s the retina. These melanomas though generally don’t produce any of the symptoms, and they get detected only during examinations of an eye. Also, in this type of ocular melanoma, there can be melanomas that can occur inlining of the eyelid that’s conjunctiva or maybe in the pigmented coating, which is within our eyeball called choroids. This, at times, causes a scratchy feeling under the eyelid, or you may also experience a dark spot in vision. Ocular melanoma has links to chronic sun exposure. One of the best ways to avert ocular melanoma is to wear sunglasses that have been rated to block completely that is a hundred percent of the ultraviolet light rays whenever you’re in the sun.
- Melanoma is very much curable but only if the Melanoma’s tumor is diagnosed at an early stage and timely treatment that is when the tumor is thin and when the tumor has not yet deeply marched into the skin. On the other hand, if melanoma is not detected and removed during its early stage, the cancer cells may grow towards downward from the skin surface and may invade the healthy tissues. The danger could worsen as melanoma becomes deep and thicker, the disease, more often, is known to spread to other parts of the body, and then it becomes difficult to control.
- Individuals who once had melanoma, they tend to have a high risk of developing a new melanoma again. Also, people at risk, due to any of the reasons, should definitely keep checking their skin on a regular basis and also have regular skin examined by health care providers of skin that is Dermatologist.