MELANOMA IS A RARER SKIN CANCER, BUT THE MOST LETHALMelanoma is the less and the most serious of skin cancers. It is the main cause of skin cancer related death and has caused 75% death of all skin cancer cases and it still rising every year. In United States there are 60,000 people who diagnosed with melanoma each year.
Malignant MelanomaMelanoma skin cancer is more common in Caucasian populations living in sunny climates than in other groups, or in those who use tanning salons. According to a WHO report about 48,000 melanoma related deaths occur worldwide per year. Melanoma can also found in the anal/rectal region, in the linings of the mouth and vagina, and in the eye. Some are even found in the gut and central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
Any of these areas can develop melanoma, but much less commonly than the skin. It is quite common, however, for a melanoma starting in the skin to spread (”metastasize”) to the aforementioned areas. The most common place to first detect melanoma when metastasis are in the lung, bone or brain, although it’s occult primary site was probably the skin.
In adulthood, skin cells divide more slowly to replace cells that have died either from old age or injuries. New skin cells arise at the deepest level of the skin, and gradually push their way upwards toward the surface as they mature. The main types of cells found within the skin are basal cells, which form the bottom layer, squamous cells, which push toward the surface to form the skin we see, and melanocytes, which produce melanin pigment that colors the skin. If specific types of gene damage occur in a cell, it can start dividing out of control. When cells divide quickly, they tend to pile up to form a lump, called a “tumor”. Melanoma tumor usually find in the melanocytes, which produces pigment, or melanin.
In many years of melanoma treatment clinical trials, the effective treatment in treating melanoma is by surgical resection when the primary tumor thickness is greater than 1mm. This is the best time to treating this cancer, if melanoma in advance stage it will be too late.
A tumor merely means an abnormal swelling; it can be caused by infection, inflammation, or just about anything and is usually not cancer. A “benign” tumor only grows in its local area (albeit quite large), it cannot spread distantly and is not cancer. In contrast, a “malignant” tumor has the ability to spread to anywhere in the body, and this is cancer. This process of spread is called “metastasis”, and is what makes cancer so dangerous. Ultimately, cancer starts in a single cell and is a disease of its genes. Any type of skin cell can give rise to skin cancer, when their reproduction goes out of control, and they divide in a disorganized way. When basal or squamous cells become cancerous, they are called carcinomas, while when the melanocytes become cancerous; this is called melanoma, which has such a different character that it is a different topic from other skin cancers.
You may interest in our article about Malignant Melanoma