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Malignant Melanoma

What is malignant melanoma?

Melanoma is a rare and serious type of cancer that starts with the skin and can then spread to other parts of the body. It is referred to as ‘malignant’ because it is more serious than other forms of skin cancer and can result in serious illness or death if not treated in time. This disease usually affects the skin first and with adequate knowledge of symptoms, victims can therefore detect the problem. Early diagnosis of melanoma is rather crucial. Medically, this problem is diagnosed by biopsy.

A common sign of melanoma is the formation of a new mole or changes in the appearance of an existing mole. This may happen on any part of the body but usually on back, legs, arms and face. Melanomas commonly have irregular shapes and different colours. They can grow on to be larger than moles and may sometimes produce an itch or start bleeding.

What are the symptoms of this condition?

The first sign is the appearance of a new mole or changed form of an existing mole. While normal moles are in one colour, round or oval in shape and not bigger than 6 mm or quarter of an inch in diameter, melanomas are likely to have an irregular shape, have more than a single colour and are larger than regular moles. The symptoms of malignant melanoma can be better understood through an A to E list:

  • A represents Asymmetrical - melanomas have two very dissimilar halves and take a jagged shape.
  • B represents Border (irregularity) - unlike normal moles, melanomas have a notched or uneven border.
  • C represents Colours - melanomas are usually in a blend of two or more colours.
  • D represents Diameter - as against other moles, melanoma bumps are bigger than 6 mm or1/4 of an inch in diameter.
  • E represents Enlargement - a mole that shows changed characteristics and size over time has stronger chances of being a melanoma.
These moles generally appear on face, back, arms ands legs but at times they may develop beneath a nail.

What causes malignant melanoma?

According to some research studies, changes inside some benign mole (nevus) cells cause them to become melanoma cells. It is not yet clearly know as to why some moles turn cancerous or why having multiple moles makes you more prone to malignant melanoma.

Usually, skin cells develop in a controlled and systematic way wherein healthy new cells push older cells towards the surface of your skin – they eventually die and fall off. But at times certain cells create DNA damage and new cells start growing out of control to form a mass of cancerous cells. Doctors link most cases to effect of ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun on skin. At times this may also be caused by tanning beds and lamps. But UV rays do not cause all kinds of melanomas. This problem may run in the family and gene mutations that significantly increase the risk of melanoma are transferred from one generation to the next.

Am I at risk of developing malignant melanoma?

The factors that put you at a high risk of this skin disease include:

  • Being fair skinned – If you have low amount of melanin or skin pigment, you are more vulnerable to damage by UV rays. People with fair skin, light coloured hair and /or eyes and freckles on their face develop melanoma more easily than those with darker complexion.
  • History of intense exposure to sun – Spending a long durations under the sun especially in childhood puts you at greater risk of melanoma. People with sunburns are also likely to be affected by the problem.
  • Having many moles (around hundred or more) or unusually big moles
  • A family history of malignant melanoma – while this is a strong factor, only 105 of the total cases run in generations
  • General weakness of body’s immune system

How to prevent this condition?

Even if you are at a high risk of developing this disease, skin cancer caused by melanoma can be prevented by taking the following precautions:

  • Avoid direct sun especially during the middle of the day and use proper clothing, accessories and sunscreen lotion before stepping out.
  • Use sunglasses that are capable of blocking both UVA and UVB rays of the sun.
  • Avoid tanning treatments in saloons – remember that UV rays emitted by tanning beds increase the risk of skin cancer.
  • Examine you skin regularly and see your dermatologist if there are any new growths or changes in old moles, birthmarks, freckles or spots.

Treatment at Skin Alive

Melanoma must be treated as early as it is diagnosed. If it spreads beyond the skin, a surgery is required to remove the lymph nodes. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy are other medical procedures to treat the advanced stage of this condition.

Skin Alive centres offer both general and cosmetic dermatology services. We use medications and procedures as per the extent and type of melanoma that impacts you. Our laser treatments effectively remove moles, warts and skin tags that are diagnosed to be potential factors for malignant melanoma. To eliminate moles from body, we have -

CO2 (Carbon dioxide) Laser - This is in the form of a knife made of light energy and is used to vaporise skin in a layer by layer way. The laser involves fractional delivery system to treat skin selectively and remove the targeted moles without causing cuts, bleeding or pain.

Your Appointment

Skin Alive has dermatologists and doctors who have treated different kinds of skin caner including squamous cell carcinoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and malignant melanoma. During your appointment with a specialist you and discuss the aspects of your disease, your basic health and medical history. Your tolerance for specific medicines, clinical procedures and therapies is considered before developing an appropriate treatment plan. We also help you to distinguish benign moles from melanoma.

Skin diseases can cause both physiological and emotional distress but we help you to choose and receive the finest treatments for good health and cosmesis.

Call us on +91-8010503503 to book your appointment.

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