Melanoma is a severe type of skin cancer that develops in the cells that produce melanin. Melanoma accounts for about 1% of skin cancers but causes a large number of skin cancer-related deaths. Melanoma can also form in the eyes and, in rare cases, the intestines. It can affect people of all ages but tends to be more common in the elderly. Women are also more likely to suffer from melanoma than men. If detected early, melanoma can be treated successfully.
The exact cause of melanoma is not known, but exposure to the sun can increase a person’s chances of getting it. Natural sunlight and tanning beds are believed to increase the risks of melanoma, as is exposure to radiation. Some other common causes and risk factors include:
Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body and often starts as a small brown spot. Some melanomas look like moles but soon start to change their shape and size. Melanomas can even appear in areas of the body that aren’t exposed to much sun. Existing moles are a commonplace to melanoma to start, too. Moles might start changing and even become painful to touch. Other symptoms of melanoma include:
The doctor usually checks their patients periodically for any signs of skin cancer, especially those who are at a higher risk for it. Patients who are concerned about their moles or feel they might have melanoma can be examined by a doctor, who will check the concerning spots on their bodies. The most common types of tests used to diagnose melanoma include:
Upon your melanoma diagnosis, you can apply as a patient for melanoma clinical trials to help yourself and other people experiencing this skin problem find better treatment and recovery methods. Because melanoma is considered a quite rare skin condition, volunteering allows experts to discover more about the disease and even find new information that would contribute to medical studies.
As a patient, this recruitment also presents individual benefits, such as getting early access to treatment and medication. Also, you can expect to work with medical professionals specializing in dermatology, as well as receiving one-on-one appointments.
If doctors diagnose something unusual with your case, they may offer your recruitment to the trials. However, it’s best to understand first how your participation would help in the clinical trials and how it could affect your condition.
Treatment for melanoma depends on the stage of the disease and the overall health of the patient. Patients with early stages of melanoma can have the mole removed. If the disease is in later stages, other treatments might be required. These treatments include:
Along with these treatment options, your care plan may also include treatments for symptoms and side effects. If anything about your treatment seems unclear to you, don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications from your doctor.
During your treatment, you’re bound to experience its physical, emotional, and social effects, so your medical professional should include supportive or palliative care in your treatment plan. During palliative care, your doctor would offer advice and therapy for nutritional changes, medication, emotional and spiritual support, and relaxation techniques, to name a few.
People who have routine melanoma scans are much more likely to catch the disease in the early stages and beat it. Melanoma is a dangerous form of cancer, and if left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and become fatal. Patients who receive timely and appropriate treatment have a good prognosis. People who have had one melanoma are likely to have more. Any exposure to the sun puts them at risk for developing new melanomas.