Melanoma is the name for the deadliest skin cancer that exists today. Over the past three decades, the risk of melanoma has increased rapidly, especially in the young age group. While other common cancers are slowly reducing down, the risk of melanoma is increasing. This calls for the right awareness among people about melanoma and how it can be prevented.
Melanoma is a type of cancer caused by the pigment of producing-cells known as melanocytes. These cells are responsible for giving us our skin color. Melanoma is generally caused due to heavy exposure of the sun to our skin, but it can also affect other parts of our body containing melanocytes. Even our eyes, palms, soles, and fingernails are at risk of getting melanoma.
Melanoma has a unique characteristic of spearing widely to other body parts from the area of its occurrence, which also makes it more dangerous than other skin cancers. Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer today.
Who can get melanoma?
Melanoma is a disease that can attack anybody, but people with light skin, colored hair, and blue/green eyes are considered more vulnerable. The people born with darker skin have lesser chances of having melanoma, but there is still a high chance of getting it. The average age of a person getting melanoma in the US is 63 years old, but 2% of melanoma patients have been under the age of 20. It is also found that melanoma is twice as common among men compared to women.
What causes melanoma?
When the pigment producing-cells called melanocytes experience a dysfunction, it affects the DNA of the cells. When the DNA of melanocytes gets affected or damaged, the cells begin to grow out of control. According to experts, 90% of melanoma cases are the result of ultraviolet radiation. The UV rays from the sun and indoor tanning devices are known as the major threats to develop melanoma tumors. There are also several cases where the patients had melanoma in the parts that were not exposed to the sun. This also concluded that melanoma could also occur due to other factors.
How to prevent melanoma?
Most of the cases of melanoma are a result of the exposure of skin to the sun or tanning devices that use UV rays. People can follow these simple instructions to prevent melanoma to a certain extent.
- Avoid unnecessary tanning.
- Staying in the shades during the peak times of the day.
- Always keeping the skin parts covers with sun-protective clothing.
- Applying sunscreen every two hours while staying outside for long.
- Staying extra precautious from the reflective surfaces that reflect the sun back like water, snow, sand, mirrors.
Melanoma can be successfully treated with surgeries during the early stages. Other treatments for melanoma include immunotherapy and targeted therapy at the more advanced stages of melanoma.