- What is melanoma?
- Types of skin cancer
- What is the difference between melanomas and moles?
- How to distinguish a mole from a melanoma
- How does melanoma look like?
- How to suspect melanoma from the symptoms?
- Causes of melanoma
- How to prevent melanoma
- How to inspect moles at home
How does a malignant mole look like?
Typically, a melanoma looks like a flat spot on the skin, a bosselation or knot rising above its surface. The color of the formations can be saturated black or dark brown. Due to this feature, melanoma is called "black skin cancer."
Sometimes malignant moles do not differ from the skin or have a white, red color.
How does melanoma look like?
At an early stage, melanoma is hard to differentiate from an ordinary mole. It appears as a stain or nodule on the skin, mucous membrane or iris of the eye. If you notice a mole in the size of more than 2mm, and it causes inconvenience (growing, changing color, hurting or itching), you should see a doctor to determine the malignancy of the formation. At a later stage, nearby tissues are affected by cancer, and the lymph nodes become inflamed.
General health with metastatic melanoma is getting worse. A patient notices weight loss and weakness, which signalize the all body systems disorder. Everyone should remember the earlier the diagnosis of melanoma is established, the higher the curability of the disease.
How to suspect melanoma from the symptoms?
- Have you or your relatives been diagnosed with melanoma or other cancers?
- Are there any new moles since your last examination?
- Does the mole have an uneven boundary?
- Is a mole asymmetric?
- Had an old mole (nevus) increased since the last exam?
- Does the mole itch, flake or bleed?
- Has a mole changed color or its color become inhomogenous?
If you have at least one positive answer, you should consult with a dermatologist or oncodermatologist!
Causes of melanoma
A melanoma is considered one of the most dangerous types of cancer in the world, the number of patients with this diagnosis is growing rapidly. Today, it has not yet been possible to definitively determine the specific cause of melanoma development, but factors that significantly increase the risk of its development are known. A person who knows the factors, can limit them, and reduce the risk of developing melanoma.
Risk Factors in the melanoma development:
- genetic predisposition
If someone in your family has been diagnosed with melanoma, you are in a group with higher risk. In this case, it is necessary to regularly inspect the skin and with the slightest suspicion of melanoma consult with a doctor.
- ultraviolet radiation (sun, solar lamps, solarium)
Lying in the sun, love of a solarium or solar lamps are a sure way to excessive insolation of the body, as well as burns, which are especially dangerous in childhood. They can lead to the development of melanoma in adulthood.
The more moles are on the body, the more likely they can transform into malignant formations. Timely control will reveal suspicious elements on the skin and carry out treatment on time.
- fair skin phototype
The skin of people with fair or red hair is poorly protected from ultraviolet light. Such people are prone to sunburn, and statistically, they have melanoma more often.
- decreased immunity
The immune system protects us not only from viruses and bacteria but also from the formation of malignant cells in the body. The activity of immunity may decrease due to chronic infections, and taking of certain medications.
- pigment xeroderma
This is a fairly rare hereditary disease, in which the skin is not able to recover after exposure to sunlight. The skin of people with such a diagnosis burns, which increases the risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers.
How to prevent melanoma
A healthy lifestyle, timely treatment of infections and viral diseases is an important step in the prevention of cancer. Certainly, they cannot completely protect a person against the risk of melanoma and other cancers, however, reduces the chance of getting sick, facilitates the body functioning and treatment as well.
To determine melanoma, it is essential to notice any changes in the skin. The body inspection should be made in front of the mirror in full height. Use a hand mirror to inspect the back areas. You may also ask your closed one to examine hard-to-reach areas of the skin.
With the help of a special to-do-list, you will be able to notice suspicious formations on the skin at home promptly.
How to inspect moles at home
- Choose the most suitable time for the regular self-examination.
- Keep a diary and take notes on the date of the examination, moles that have recently appeared and cause a desire to observe.
- Take photos of the moles for a visual fixation of the changes.
- Find a place for examination - it should be a bright room with a large mirror. To inspect hard-to-reach places, use a small hand mirror. A close person can also help you with the examination.
- Inspect the entire surface of the skin, including face, ears, neck, armpits, chest, sides, palms, fingers, front and back surfaces of the legs, genitals.
- Pay attention to the nails and interdigital areas; visually examine the reflections of your eyes and skin in places that come in contact with clothing and shoes (for example, with underwear, glasses, belt). Women should also examine the skin under the breast.
- Examine the skin of the head - use a comb, hair dryer and mirror to lift the hair strands and check for moles.
- Measure the size of your moles with a ruler and write down their size.
- Moles that differ from others in color, shape, texture, touch them gently to determine if they cause unpleasant sensations, and to understand how much they rise above the skin.
- If you find suspicious moles or indurations on the skin, fix their size, position on the body and visit a doctor for a consultation.
Melanoma is a very dangerous disease. This type of skin cancer does not arouse suspicion until it passes to the later stages. However, timely diagnostics and simple rules of protection will help to protect yourself.
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