Science of Skin

Melanoma

Incidence

Melanoma skin cancer
Melanoma skin cancer

The incidence of melanoma varies geographically. Australia has the highest incidence, with 1 in 25 people succumbing to the disease in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 5000 in the USA and European countries.

Causes

High peaks to sun exposure (eg. sunburn in childhood) and overall lifetime overexposure to ultraviolet radiation contributes substantially to melanoma

Symptoms

Melanoma skin cancer
Melanoma skin cancer

Melanomas can present themselves as moles in areas all over the body, from both areas that are constantly, and never, exposed to the sun. Along with being found on the skin, they can present themselves under finger or toe nails, in the mouth, digestive tract, vagina, and in the eye.

The self -examination guide can be used to detect melanomas or other skin cancers:

A (asymmetrical): moles with an irregular shape may be skin cancers or melanoma.

B (border): melanomas have irregular, ragged or blurred borders.

C (colour): melanomas may have a changing or irregular colour, which can range between black, brown and blue.

D (diameter): growths larger than 6mm (1/4 diameter) may suggest melanoma.

E (evolving): check for any moles that appear to change shape, colour or size.

Other symptoms of a changing mole to be wary of are itching, a change in texture, and oozing or bleeding.

Treatment

Surgical removal, such as excision or mohs surgery, is used to remove melanomas. When the cancer grows, it is able to spread (metastasis) via the blood stream, which gives it access to distant organs, where it can form secondary tumours. Advanced melanomas are treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.

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