The skin is the largest organ on the body, covering its mass to protect you from pathogens, produce vitamin D, store water, and fat. The skin is made up of three layers, the epidermis, the hypodermis, and the dermis.
Located just above the dermis are cells called melanocytes. These cells produce the skin's color or shade. Melanoma begins when the growth cycle of these types of cells is accelerated, forming a cancerous tumor. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can be transferred to other areas of the body.
Occasionally, Melanoma develops from a mole already present on the surface of the skin. When this occurs its physical alteration can be noticed by color, shape, or size of the mole changing after a period of time.
Although Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, not excluding the head or neck areas, the skin under fingernails, the genitals, and even the palms and soles of appendages. It may not be colored like your general mole, with Menaloma its color may be slightly red. Which is also known as Amelanotic Melanoma. However, when discovered promptly Melanoma can be corrected with surgery. Nonetheless, this is one of the most serious and fatal types of cancer, it can even grow deep into the skin, called Invasive Melanoma. It can even invade lymph nodes and blood vessels while spreading to distant parts of the body, called Metastatic Melanoma. It can also develop along the mucosa membranes in the mouth, vagina, and gastrointestinal tract. It can even form on the surface of the eye.
Now that we have discussed a few types of Melanoma, let us discuss some statistics of the disease.
This year alone, an estimated 100,350 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with the disease invasive melanoma. To put the seriousness of the situation in perspective, Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer among men and the sixth most common among women.
This illness is more common among Caucasians than African Americans, roughly twenty times more common with an average diagnosis of an age of 65 years old. However, before age 50. There are more women are diagnosed with Melanoma contrary to their male counterparts. By age 65, men are 2x more likely to develop this type of cancer and by age 80, the factor increases to 3x against you! As we age, our chances of getting this type of cancer increase substantially. However, young people can get it too. It is one of the most common cancers among young adult women. In fact, in this year alone 2,400 cases of Melanoma will be diagnosed in people with ages ranging from 15 to 29.
Sun exposure can expose lead to exposure to ultraviolet radiation or UV Rays. This radiation can lead to the formation of skin cancer. People who live in high altitudes or areas with high sun exposure, run a high risk of developing melanoma. Though the truth is some people exposed to risk factors never develop it, and others not exposed as much, do.
As stated before, exposure to ultraviolet radiation (specifically UVB or ultraviolet B radiation) is associated with developing melanoma. However, newer more current data suggest ultraviolet A (UVA) which comes from sun lamps or tanning beds. This also concludes to the development of booth basal and squamous cell skin cancers.
There is no known way to prevent melanoma, but there are ways to reduce the risk of contracting it. The best way to reduce the chance is to avoid exposure to UV light.
- Be sure to limit your exposure to the sun from 10 AM to 4 PM.
- UV protection factor clothing with UPF, including wide-brimmed hats that cover the head, neck, and ears.
- Use sunscreen when exposing yourself to ultraviolet A radiation, or ultraviolet B radiation.
- Be sure to avoid outdoor recreational sunbathing.
- Do not use sun lamps, tanning beds, nor tanning salons.
- Examine your skin regularly, inspecting moles for alternations or growths that do not look normal to you.
- Survivor-ship is having no signs of cancer after treatment. In a sense treatment still continues, but you are essentially blessed to be cancer free.
- The after-treatment involves preventative treatment over the long term to prevent the re-occurrence of cancer on the skin.
Menalonma is no laughing matter, but by careful planning and awareness, you can greatly reduce your chances of contracting this disease. Remember its ultraviolet radiation from the sun and sun type lamps that emit harmful effects on the skin. Use the tips given in the article above to protect the largest organ on your body!
Finally, once again there is no safe form of radiation. You should avoid tanning beds at al cost, there is no safe substitution to tanning in artificial sunlight.