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Melanoma

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by LaRusso L

(Cutaneous Melanoma; Malignant Melanoma)

 

Definition

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It is the less common form of skin cancer but it can be more serious because it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body.
Melanoma arises from the type of cells that give moles their dark colors. These cells can be found in the skin, eyes, digestive system, nail beds, or lymph nodes. Although melanoma is most common in the skin it may also arise in these other areas.
Treatment for melanoma depends on how early it is detected, or if the melanoma has spread.
Melanoma
Melanoma
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Diagnosis

Your doctor may also examine lymph nodes. Enlarged lymph nodes may suggest the spread of melanoma. A sample of lymph node tissue may also be removed for testing.
Once melanoma is found, more tests will be done to determine the stage of cancer. Melanoma is staged like other cancers, from I to IV. The stage will help determine your prognosis.
 

Treatment

Treatment will depend on the stage of the melanoma. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options may include one or more of the following:

Surgery

The melanoma and some healthy tissue around it will be removed. If a large area of tissue is removed, skin from another area of your body will be needed to cover the wound. Lymph nodes near the tumor may also be removed for testing or to stop the spread of cancer.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is medication that kills cancer cells. It is used to treat advanced melanoma.

Other Medications

Immunotherapy is used to treat advanced melanoma, and melanoma that has a high risk of return. Immunotherapy trains the body's own immune system to find and destroy cancer cells.
Some people have a genetic mutation in the BRAF gene that can cause the melanoma to grow and divide quickly. This BRAF mutation occurs in nearly half of all melanomas. Certain medications can help your body target cells with the BRAF mutation.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This is not a cure for melanoma. It is used in combination with other therapies.
 

Prevention

To reduce your chance of getting melanoma:
Early diagnosis and treatment is important. Take the following steps to find melanoma in its early stages:
  • See your doctor if you think you have melanoma.
  • If you have many moles or a family history of melanoma, have your skin checked regularly for changes in moles.
  • Ask your doctor to show you how to do a skin self-exam . Do self-exams to look for any new or changing moles.
 

RESOURCES

American Academy of Dermatology
http://www.aad.org

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org

Skin Cancer Foundation
http://www.skincancer.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

Canadian Dermatology Association
http://www.dermatology.ca

 

References


Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated April 3, 2013. Accessed April 9, 2013.


Melanoma. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/melanoma . Accessed April 9, 2013.


Melanoma skin cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: hhttp://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003120-pdf.pdf . Updated January 17, 2013. Accessed April 9, 2013.


Physician quality reporting system quality measures. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed.ebscohost.com Updated February 5, 2013. Accessed April 9, 2013.

 

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