What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is the least common but most dangerous form of skin cancer. It develops when the pigment-producing cells that give color to the new skin become cancerous. Melanoma looks like an abnormal mole and at times grows inside existing moles. Each year about 10,000 people die from this type of skin cancer, however, if recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable. It’s always best to know what causes melanoma to steer away from it as much as possible.
What Causes Melanoma?
Melanoma occurs when something goes wrong within the melanin-producing cells that give your skin color. In normal skin cells, they develop in a controlled and orderly way where healthy new cells push older cells towards the skin’s surface, where they die and eventually fall off. However, when cells develop DNA damage, new cells may begin to grow out of control and can end up forming a mass of cancerous cells. There’s a combination of factors that cause melanoma, from environmental and genetic factors, but doctors don’t believe exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds is the leading cause of melanoma since melanoma can occur in places that don’t receive exposure to sunlight.
Melanoma treatment is based on the stage of cancer along with other factors taken into consideration. Some treatments for melanoma are:
- Surgery is the main treatment for melanoma. The doctor goes in and cuts a small amount of skin to cut out the tumor.
- Immunotherapy is where medicines are used to stimulate a person’s immune system to recognize and destroy the cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy drugs help target parts of melanoma cells that make them different from normal cells.
- Chemotherapy is when drugs are taken to kill cancer cells, traveling through the bloodstream to all parts of the body and attacking cancer cells that have already spread beyond the skin.
- Radiation is high-energy rays or particles that kill cancer cells. This treatment is not necessary but can be useful in some circumstances.
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