Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in skin cells known as melanocytes. It can spread throughout the body but has a high survival rate when caught early. Keep reading to learn some of the most common symptoms of melanoma, how it's usually treated and whether it's time to get medical attention for a personal skin concern.
Various Kinds of Melanoma
There are four types of melanoma, and three of them begin on the top layers of skin. The other kind is more dangerous and it is invasive from the beginning. The first three referred to may quickly spread to other parts of the body even though they are not initially invasive. Most of the types first appear as skin irregularities such as spots with uneven borders. That's why it's so important for people to perform self-skin checks and consult family practitioners or dermatologists if things seem amiss.
One of the most common warning signs is a mole that changes its appearance, such as getting larger, becoming irregular or beginning to spill outside its borders. Some abnormal moles also start to hurt or become tender, or ooze and become scaly. It should now be clear that most people who are suffering from this kind of cancer notice symptoms related to their moles. However, it may also be present if a person has a sore that does not heal.
Treatments for This Condition
When this kind of cancer is in the early stages and restricted to the skin, physicians tackle it by cutting out the affected area and sending it for analysis in a lab. If the cancer has developed into a more advanced stage and therefore spread to the lymph nodes or other areas of the body besides the skin, patients are often given immunotherapy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Doctors may also suggest they take part in clinical trials.
Know Your Risks
If you have been out in the sun a lot without using sunscreen and/or have been severely sunburned, your risk of contracting this kind of cancer is higher than that associated with the population at large. Also, if you have fair skin or have a family history of this disease, those are two other factors that elevate your risk.
See a Doctor to Get Suspicious Skin Changes Checked
You've already learned that many symptoms of this kind of cancer involve strange skin changes. If you notice something weird while evaluating your skin, it's important to get a doctor to look at it as soon as possible. While you're waiting for an appointment, keep an eye on the affected area and take notes about whether it changes in the time since you first noticed it. Also, follow a doctor's advice about how often to get your skin professionally checked for abnormalities.