Melanoma is a cancer that originates in the pigment producing cells of the skin (melanocytes). Melanocytes are the pigmented cells in the skin that give skin its distinctive colour. Sun-light stimulates melanocytes to produce more melanin (the pigment that darkens the skin) and increases the risk of melonoma.
Warning signs of melanoma :
- Enlarging pigmented (especially black or deep blue) spot or mole,
- Changes in colour of an existing mole, especially the spread of red, white, brown, or blue pigmentation to surrounding skin
- Changes in characteristics of skin over the pigmented spot, such as changes in size or shape.
- Bleeding or breaking open (ulceration) of an existing mole.
Malignant melanoma attracts a disproportionate amount of attention because it is so lethal and prevention, early diagnosis and treatment are by for the best ways of combating its dangers. It is not very commonly seen in the blacks but its incidence in whites in Europe and USA is doubling, approximately every 10 years. Sunlight is the most important cause.
Melamoma can begin as a new, small, pigmented skin growth on normal skin, most often on sun-exposed areas, or it may develop from pre-existing pigmented moles. Sometimes melanoma runs in families, Melanoma readily spreads (metastasizes) to distant parts of the body, where it continues to grow and destroy tissue.
Melanomas can vary in appearance. Some are flat, irregular brown patches containing small black spots. Others are raised brown pateches with red, white, black or blue spots. Sometimes melanoma appears as a firm black or grey lump.
The melanomas cause most of the deaths from skin cancer. The mean age of those dying from melanomas is less than that of those dying from other skin cancers. Primary malignant melanomas may be classified into 6 clinico-histologic types, including lentigo maligna melanoma, superficial spreading malignant melanoma, nodular malignant melanoma; acrallentiginious melanomas; malignant melanomas on mucous membrane; and miscellaneous form such as those arising from blue new and congenital and giant nerocytic nevi.
Diagnosist & Treatment
When melanoma is suspected, a biopsy (removal of a tissue specimen and examination under a microscope) is performed. Small growths are removed entirely, but only a small piece is removed from larger growth. In either case, a pathologist examines the tissue microscopically to determine if the growth is a melanoma. Surgery can remove the entire melanoma; if the melanoma hasn't spread, the cure route approaches 100 per cent. However, anyone who has had a melanoma is at risk of developing others. Therefore, such people need regular skin examinations.
Although chemotherapy is used to treat melanomas that have spread, cure rates are low and The condition is often fatal. However, experimental treatment with inter-leukin-2 immunotherapy has yielded promising results.
DR. MASWOODUR RAHMAN PRINCE
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