Skin Cancer – Melanoma Treatments
at Woodbury Dental and Laser Clinic in Kent
Skin conditions and problems can mostly be treated with cosmetic procedures, which aim to improve the appearance of the skin; some medical skin conditions can also be addressed with simple treatments.
Skin cancer problems, on the other hand, require more specific and more detailed treatments, to prevent further worsening that can affect other body parts and organs.
What is Skin Cancer Melanoma?
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and is the leading cause of death from skin conditions. Melanoma is caused by changes in skin cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for the production of a skin pigment called melanin. Melanin in turn is the pigment responsible for giving the skin and hair their natural colour. Melanoma can appear on normal skin, or it may begin as a mole or other area that has changed in appearance. Some moles that are present at birth may develop into melanomas.
Types of Melanoma Skin Cancer
- Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type of melanoma skin cancer. It is often seen as flat and irregular in shape and colour, with different shades of black and brown. Superficial spreading melanoma is most common in Caucasians.
- Nodular melanoma is a melanoma skin cancer that often starts as a raised area that is dark blackish-blue or bluish-red. However, there are some nodular melanomas that do not have any colour at all.
- Lentigo maligna melanoma usually occurs in the elderly, and is most commonly seen in sun-damaged areas of skin on the face, neck, and arms. The abnormal skin areas associated with lentigo maligna melanoma are usually large, flat, and tan with some areas that are brown in colour.
- Acral lentiginous melanoma is the least common form of melanoma skin cancer. It is often seen on the palms, soles, or under the nails, and is more common in African Americans.
Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer Development
Given below is a list of risk factors for the development of skin cancer melanoma:
- Individuals who have fair skin, blue or green eyes, or red or blond hair
- Those who live in high altitude areas, or sunny climates
- Those who have close relatives with a history of melanoma skin cancer
- People who use tanning devices
- People who have a weakened immune system due to certain medications or medical conditions
- Individuals who have experienced having one or more blistering sunburns during childhood
- Those who spent a lot of time in high levels of strong sunlight due to their jobs, sports, or other factors
- Individuals who have come into contact with cancer-causing chemicals such as arsenic, coal tar, and creosote
- People who have certain types of moles (atypical dysplastic) or multiple birthmarks
Symptoms of Melanoma Skin Cancer
The signs and symptoms of melanoma skin cancer can more easily be detected with the ABCDE system:
Asymmetry: The appearance of one half of the abnormal area is different from the other half.
Borders: The edges or borders of the skin growth are irregular.
Color: Colour changes from one area to another, with shades of tan, brown, or black, and sometimes white, red, or blue. One sore may possibly have a mixture of different colours.
Diameter: The melanoma skin cancer spot is usually (but not always) bigger than 6 mm in diameter – approximately the size of a pencil eraser.
Evolution: The mole evolves and changes in appearance.
Melanoma Treatment Options
- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy medicines can effectively kill the cancer cells of melanoma skin cancer. This type of treatment is usually given if the melanoma spread, or has returned once again.
- Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy medications such as interferon or interleukin help the immune system fight the skin cancer melanoma. These medications may be used along with chemotherapy and surgery to more effectively deal with the skin cancer condition.
- Radiation Treatments – Radiation treatments can be used to relieve pain or discomfort caused by cancer that has spread to other parts of the skin, or the body.
- Surgery – Skin melanoma surgery may be done to remove cancer that has spread to other parts or organs of the body. Skin melanoma surgery is recommended and performed to relieve the pain or discomfort associated with the growing cancer.