Alteration in the color and shape of moles is one of the melanoma symptoms.
But before dwelling on this topic, it is important to discuss the main condition. Melanoma is actually a type of cancer that mainly influences the melanocytes. These cells, melanocytes, are responsible in providing pigment and color to the skin. Usually, the skin is affected by this medical condition because a great number of melanocytes exist in this organ. This condition rarely occurs in the eyes, vagina and the mouth.
Compared to other kinds of cancer such squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma occurs less but is far more dangerous. According to statistics, majority of the deaths of skin cancer is due to melanoma. Like any kinds of cancer, if the melanoma diagnosis has been identified at its early stages, it can be cured. However, if caught at the later stages, it has the capacity to metastasize to other areas.
What are the Symptoms of Melanoma?
Melanoma can affect any area of the skin. In males, it primarily starts at the back and at the chest. The leg area is usually the first part affected in women. Secondary to these areas are the neck (See: neck pain relief) and the face. One of the earliest melanoma symptoms that can be observed is the change in pigmentation and color on a certain area or spot of the skin. There is also a change in shape and appearance of the mole. Here is a simple guide to know if there is a need to visit a skin specialist. Check if the moles in the body have the following characteristics.
• A-ssymetry. The mole is not round in shape. When it is divided into two equal parts, one side is not approximately the mirror image of the other.
• B-order. The margins of the mole are irregular, roughed, and blurred.
• C-olor. The spot doesn’t have a solid color. Some parts are bluish, and some are reddish.
• D-iameter. When the spot is approximately larger than 6 millimeters, it may be an indication of an underlying disease. However, some cases of melanoma have mole smaller than 6 millimeters.
Other melanoma symptoms include: soreness of certain part of the skin that doesn’t heal, presence of inflammation around the borders of the affected area, and alteration of pigmentation around the area of the skin. Sensation changes of itchiness and pain may also be experienced.
What are the Risk Factors of Melanoma?
Risk factors are defined as anything that increases the chances of developing the disease. However, this doesn’t conclude that one will certainly have this disease in the future. Some patients with melanoma may exhibit these risk factors, but some may not. It is also very hard to distinguish if these factors are negatively contributing to the disease when melanoma diagnosis has been made. Here is a list of the risk factors of melanoma.
• Exposure to harmful rays of the sun. The main risk factor of melanoma is the harmful rays produced by the sun called the ultraviolet rays. It has the capacity to damage the DNA or the genes in the cells of the skin. These genes are mainly responsible in the growth of the new skin cells. If damaged, these cells will not be able to perform its function very well. The strength of the UV radiation and the time of exposure are the factors determining the effect of these harmful rays to the skin.
• Moles. Usually, a child is born without moles. These only develop when the baby grows and becomes older. It is not uncommon for a child to have at least two or three moles. The most alarming is having a lot of irregular and huge moles in the body. This increase the possibility of developing the disease.
• Race. Caucasians are 10 times more at risk in developing skin cancer than African Americans. Persons with blonde hair, green or blue eyes, and fair skin have a higher risk. In contrary, persons with dark skin lower the possibility of acquiring melanoma.
• Age and Gender. Commonly, the disease affects men over the age of 30. However, the disease still may occur at younger people, male or female.
• Medical History. Recurrence of melanoma is a rare occurrence. Patients who had melanoma may experience the disease for the second time. In addition, patients with xeroderma pigmentosum have a higher risk in developing meloma. It is a disease that affects the enzyme responsible in repairing damage DNA in the skin.
• Family History. According to studies, 10 per cent of the individuals with melanoma have a family history of melanoma. It increases definitely when 1st degree relatives or members of the family have this.
Melanoma Diagnosis – Is there Any Way to Detect this Condition Early?
Having the knowledge of what is normal and what is not may prove to be useful in identifying the disease. The main person responsible in detecting the disease early is none other than himself. With thorough self-examination and regular visit to the doctor, melanoma diagnosis can be done at its early stages.
• Self-Examination. When the person is at high risk of developing the disease, he is advised to examine his body at least once a month to detect early changes in his skin. Examination should be done in a properly lit room. Aside from using a full-body mirror, small mirrors may be helpful in looking at areas difficult to see.
• Physical Examination. This is basically provided by the skin specialists. Because of his medical knowledge, he will have better understanding of what is normal and what is diseased. He may use special types of machine to have a better look at the affected area. Through the use of dermatoscope and assessment of medical and family history of the patient, the doctor may be able to say if the disease is melanoma.
A skin biopsy may also be performed to support the melanoma diagnosis. This is done by incising a portion of the area and examining this under the microscope.
In conclusion, several numbers of irregular and big moles is one of the early melanoma symptoms. This makes self-examination in the comfort of one’s home very vital in early melanoma diagnosis. With the cooperation of the patient and the doctor, the survival rates of skin cancer will surely increase.
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