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Melanoma

DEFINITION:
Melanoma, the most serious of all cancers, is a type of skin cancer that forms in melanocytes, which are the skin cells that create pigment. Because of the cancer, these cells start growing abnormally and take over invading the tissues. 

SYMPTOMS:
Melanoma has several signs or symptoms but the most common and most significant one is if there is a change in the size, shape, or color of a mole or a birthmark. Not always does melanoma develop in a mole but it can also develop on the skin by itself. Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body but the most common place on the body for men is the upper back and for women is legs. Usually, if melanoma develops on a mole, the mole starts to look brown or black and flattens as well as getting uneven edges. A melanoma can also look crusty and have blood or pus in it. 


CAUSES:
Melanoma can be caused by genetics but the most common cause is excessive amounts of exposure to the sun and UV rays. The rays destroy the melanocytes in the body causing the cancer to develop. 


DIAGNOSIS :
The diagnosis for melanoma can be done by a biopsy, which is when a sample of tissue is taken from the suspected melanoma and examined. If melanoma appears on the biopsy, the rest of the body is examined for cancer. 


TREATMENT:
If the cancer hasn’t spread to other parts of the body, it can be cured. Generally, surgery is done to remove the cancer. If the cancer is deep into the skin, plastic surgery can be done to fix the damage to the skin caused by the surgery. 

Unfortunately, for cancer that has spread, there is no cure but research is still being done for more treatment options. For now, however, there is a medication named interferon that is given to fight and destroy the cancerous cells. 


PREVENTION:
Skin cancer in general can be prevented by avoiding too much sun. A sunscreen should be used at all times when going out in the sun. 
 

 

 

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