Being an Australian, it is much possible that you have already heard a lot about melanoma or skin cancer because of its high manifestation rate in our region but still a lot about it remains unheard of.
So, at Nitai Medical and Cosmetic Centre, we have taken the initiative to assemble all the crucial facts on melanoma because in case of this skin issue, proper knowledge is the best measure of prevention. Let us explore all the intricacies of this type of skincare and learn one or two ways to avert it from appearing.
Understanding the Origin of Melanoma:
The melanoma is a type of skin cancer that appears when the cells called melanocytes become malignant. These cells make a pigment called melanin, responsible for the colour of the skin, hair and iris of the eyes. Melanin, on the other hand, works like a photoresistor, preventing solar radiation from damaging the structures or tissues of the body. When the skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes produce more melanin as a defence against the action of ultraviolet rays (UV). Moles or freckles appear when the melanocytes grow in groups.
A person usually has between 10 to 40 moles or freckles and scientifically, they are called nevus. These are classified into two groups: congenital nevus, which may be from birth or appear over the years; and acquired nevi, which develop from the year of birth and can be typical or atypical. Melanocytes multiply and sometimes spread to other parts of the body over time.
The metastasis (the stage when cancer starts spreading) starts when a small group of cells of the primary tumour is transported to another area and stops in an organ which grows and produces a tumour similar to the original. To clear up possible doubts about the malignant nature of the tumour, a biopsy is used, which consists of extracting a sample of the tumour tissue to analyse it. In this way, you can confirm the diagnosis and establish an appropriate treatment.
Causes of Melanoma:
Although there are many factors that cause it but, what appears to be the most predominant reason of all is to have taken in excess of sun during childhood, although it can occur in people of all ages. Melanoma is manifested by new moles or freckles that change size and appearance. There are a number of factors that increase the risk of melanoma in people. Among them, some of the reasons that are worth mentioning:
- Having clear skin or hair.
- Presence of atypical nevi (non-cancerous but unusual looking moles).
- Presence of nevus in an amount greater than 40.
- Presence of congenital nevi (moles that are present since birth).
- Have a family history of atypical nevi, melanoma, or both.
- Have suffered one or more severe sunburns, especially if they have occurred in childhood, because the effect of solar radiation is cumulative.
- Been exposed to ultraviolet rays for many hours (sun, UVB, UVA) even if your skin is completely tanned.
Symptoms of Melanoma:
It is pretty difficult to differentiate the cancerous melanoma from the innocuous moles, so here we have mapped a few details that might help in figuring out the melanoma better.
- Although melanoma can appear at any age and is increasingly diagnosed in young people, the highest frequency occurs between 40 and 50 years, which is common to different skin cancers.
- As for sex, melanoma occurs more frequently in women than in men, although it generally has a better prognosis than for men.
- Blondes, redheads and clear eyes are more likely to have melanoma. White people also have more possibilities than those with dark complexions.
- The professions carried out outdoors and the outdoor sports are also a risk factor.
- The people with very sensitive skin that always burns and never tans in his first exhibition constitute a risk group.
- The people at some point in their lives have been affected by melanoma are at risk of relapse or develop new melanomas. For this reason, medical follow-up and maintenance of preventive measures is very important.
- People in a situation of immunosuppression (leukemia, lymphomas , organ transplantation, AIDS, etc.) have a higher risk of developing melanoma.
Prevention against Melanoma:
The sun is the main risk factor to develop melanoma, so it is advisable to take a series of basic measures when exposed to sunlight. People with melanoma should follow with special attention the general rules to protect themselves from radiation, since they are at a higher risk of developing new tumours. To protect the skin, consider the following tips:
- Apply sunscreen before exposure: Apply sunscreen before sun exposure and renew your application frequently, especially if you are on the beach or in the pool, after each bath.
- Avoid the most intense hours: Sun exposure should be progressive and should be avoided between 12h and 16h.
- Protect children: Do not expose children under three years of age to direct sunstroke and protect them with a high protection sunscreen in the hours of weak sunlight in order to preserve their solar capital as long as possible. Keep in mind that the skin retains the memory of all the radiation received during childhood. The more important the dose of radiation has been, the higher the risk of cancers in adulthood.
- Use protection in outdoor activities: Outdoor activities can also cause burns. Use sun protection on walks both on foot or by bicycle, when playing sports or in gardens or terraces, and so on.
- Do not let your guard down before factors that lessen the sensation of heat: Do not trust the circumstances that entail a supplementary risk or a false security: altitude, cloudiness, reflecting surfaces (snow, sand, grass, water), fresh wind, and so on.
- Protect yourself with sunglasses, a cap and dry clothes: Use cap and sunglasses with approved glasses capable of filtering UVA and UVB rays. Children also protect them with a dry and opaque T-shirt: a wet T-shirt lets UV rays through.
- Dry well after each bath: The magnifying effect of water droplets promotes sunburn and decreases the effectiveness of sunscreens even though they are water resistant.
- Drink plenty of water and often: The sun dehydrates the body. Watch especially the elderly, whose sensation of thirst is attenuated, and children, whose need for water is important and their thermoregulation centers still immature.
- Avoid tanning sessions with UVA lamps: They contribute to the appearance of skin cancers and accelerate the aging of the skin.
- Check your freckles and moles: If you notice the appearance of a new freckle or mole, or that one of those who already have changes shape, size or color consult your dermatologist.