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What you should know about Melanoma

Melanoma is a tumour of melanin-forming cells associated with skin cancer. Melanoma is responsible for most of the skin cancer deaths. It is believed to be the most severe type of skin cancer. The adverse effect of melanoma can also reach till eyes and at times in internal organs like intestines.

In the article below, we will try to make you equip with certain facts about melanoma which should be known to you.

Causes of Melanoma

One of the reasons for cancer is DNA changes that turn on or turn off tumour suppresser genes. Changes occurring in several varied cells can lead to a cell becoming a cancer cell.

  • In regards to skin cancer, ultraviolet rays (UV) are considered to be a major cause of melanoma.  Overexposure to sun rays can damage the DNA in skin cells. As a result of this damage sometimes, there is an effect on certain genes controlling the growth and division of skin cells. In absence of proper working of genes, the effected cells may become cancer cells.

In most of the cases, gene changes observed in melanoma cells are not inherited but are affected by UV rays. Typically UV rays come from sunlight but can also come from tanning beds. 

It is not yet certain, when does the damage from UV rays occur in DNA. While in cases it may happen in a few years before the appearance of cancer cells, it may be a case of exposure many years earlier too. 

  • Quite surprisingly, under exposure to sunlight also leads to formation of melanoma. Parts of the body like soles of your feet, palms of your hands are prone to melanoma due to inadequate exposure to sunlight. These melanomas have different gene changes than those which develop in sun exposed areas.
  • Melanomas are also passed from one generation to another.

Symptoms of Melanoma

Knowing the symptoms help you take an action before the malignant cells have done you much harm. Let’s have a look at the symptoms of melanoma below:

  • Melanomas can develop in any part of your body primarily in the areas receiving over exposure to sunlight like back, legs, arms, face or in the areas not receiving enough sun light like palm of the hands, soles of the feet.
  • The beginning of melanomas sign include – change in existing mole or the development of unfamiliar looking growth on your skin. Mostly melanomas are black or brown but they can also be skin-coloured, white, pink, red or purple.

It is worth noting that melanomas can start to appear on otherwise normal looking skin and not always as a mole.

Risk factors Associated with Melanoma:

  • Excessive exposure to UV
  • Consistent sunburns
  • Living close to the equator or at a height
  • Having multiple moles on skin
  • Genetic factor
  • Fair Skin
  • Week Immune System

Some precautions that can help:

Having known the risk factors of melanoma, you can reduce it by taking care of below things:

  • Irrespective of the season, wear your sunscreen.
  • Be considerate of your clothes.
  • Avoid moving out during the middle of the day.
  • Avoid tanning beds and lamps
  • Look out for you skin changes

Do not delay in showing to a doctor if you notice any such signs or have a family history. If only recognised and treated at an early age, melanoma is curable. However a delay can lead to adverse results.