Most of us have been warned from an early age about the dangers of melanoma. Parents are urged to rub plenty of sunscreen onto their children for outdoor play, and adults are warned never to spend time in the sun without a hat and other protective clothing. All of this is for a good reason – sun exposure places everyone at a greater risk for the deadliest form of skin cancer. It is commonly believed that only people with fair hair and skin are at much of a risk for developing this devastating disease. However, this is not entirely true. While fair skin and hair is a risk factor for skin cancer, there are many other situations which place people at risk. Living in a sunny climate or a high altitude increases sun exposure and ups the risk for developing skin lesions; working around dangerous industrial chemicals or having a family history of skin cancer also places certain individuals at a greater risk. Early detection of skin cancer is critical for successful treatment of the disease. Everyone, especially those at an increased risk for skin cancer, should be aware of the danger signs and undergo a yearly skin exam.
What are my survival chances if I develop malignant melanoma?
Your chances of beating the deadly disease depend on when treatment is begun. In the early stages, the outlook is positive if the cancer is removed; however, if the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, treatment becomes more complicated and chances of succumbing are greatly increased.
What are the melanoma cancer signs I should look out for?
You should check the entire surface of your skin for changes or abnormalities, both in pre-existing skin growths and unblemished skin. Irregular reddish, blue, or blue-black patches, moles that change in size, texture or color, and hard, shiny lumps in the skin are all symptoms.
Are moles a sign of skin melanoma? Moles are not necessarily an indication of skin cancer. However, you should keep a close eye out for moles that change color or shape, moles that bleed or develop a flaky or crusty surface, or those that begin to grow rapidly.
What is the most effective melanoma treatment? Treating skin cancer depends on the stage the lesions have reached. Excising (surgically cutting away) the diseased tissue is the most effective treatment for cancerous skin; depending on how far the cancer has advanced, your doctor may order a biopsy of other tissue to ensure that the tumors have not spread.
Are there any other types of skin cancer? Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and least dangerous form of skin cancer; it can be treated fairly easily. Squamous cell carcinoma is slightly more serious, but it is generally treatable when caught in the early stages. Melanoma remains the most dangerous form of skin cancer.