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Finding Happiness
Healthy Lifestyle
Melanoma May Awareness Month!

May 10th, 2014

Category: Body

Melanoma May Awareness Month!

What is Melanoma?
There are many forms of skin cancer, with the two most common being basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. One of the most dangerous types of skin cancer, however, is melanoma, which may begin as a mole that alters in appearance or could originate on normal skin. More than 90 percent of melanomas are caused by mutations in the DNA of skin cells called melanocytes (which produce the pigment melanin). Melanomas originating on the skin are cutaneous melanomas. Less commonly, melanoma can also appear in other locations such as the eyes or sinuses.

Did You Know?
-There are approximately 75,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in the United States each year.
-There are approximately 9,000 melanoma related deaths in the United States each year.
-The median age of diagnosis is 59 years, but people of all ages can develop melanoma.

Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer:
Factors that increase the risk for developing cutaneous melanoma include the following
-Family history of melanoma
-Personal history of melanoma
-Multiple atypical moles or dysplastic nevi
-Sun exposure
-Fair skin

Signs of Melanoma Skin Cancer:
A skin lesion may be cancerous if it exhibits the following characteristics
-Ragged edges
-Uneven shape
-uneven coloration
-Changes in texture
-Changes in size

Stages of Melanoma Skin Cancer:
Melanomas are staged based on features such as the Breslow thickness (how deeply the melanoma invades the skin), the presence of mitosis (dividing cells), and ulceration. The stages are as followed.
-Stage 0
Melanoma in situ; has not invaded the lower layers of skin.
-Stage 1
Detected only at the primary site.
-Stage 2
Detected only at the primary site.
-Stage 3
Spread to the draining lymph nodes or along the lymph channels on the way to the lymph nodes.
-Stage 4
Spread distantly in the body either by the lymph or circulatory systems.

Treatments for Melanoma Skin Cancer:
Treatments for melanoma include the following procedures and medications
-Surgical procedures to treat melanoma include a wide excision (which removes the cancerous tissue plus a margin of healthy skin surrounding it) and sentinel lymph node biopsy (which determines if the initial lymph nodes draining from the primary melanoma contain cancer cells).
-Medications to treat melanoma contain a number of chemo-therapies and immune therapies approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of stage 2, 3, and 4 melanomas. These treatment options are growing as research develops new medications.