Melanoma is the name for the skin cancer that originates in melanocytes, which are the cells that produce melanin. Melanin is produced in the epidermis and other parts of the skin when exposed to UV rays causing the skin to suntan.
Melanoma skin cancer manifests itself as bumps and moles on the skin. This may occur anywhere on the body including the soles of the feet and even the eyes and mucous membranes. The nose and mouth can also be affected by excessive overexposure to UV rays , however these forms are rare.
Melanomas can develop quickly, and when left untreated will spread deeper into the skin and eventually to other parts of the body - a process known as metastasis, exemplified by the spread of cells from the primary neoplasm to distant organs where secondary growth occurs (Rigel, 2005).
The result is Malignant Melanoma, and this type of occurrence is responsible for 75% of skin cancer deaths.
A normal mole is consistent in colour and tone with clearly defined edges. When the cell is cancerous it will have different colours - reds, browns, blues - and blotchy in appearance, or will have various tones or shades in it. The edges will be jagged and not well defined. The mole or freckle will become larger and irregular in shape, and might itch and bleed. These are typical characteristics of Melanoma skin cancer.
New moles can appear at any time and often in childhood and pregnancy there will be changes. While not all will be Melanoma, they should be regularly monitored.
Melanoma is potentially a lethal skin cancer, with a higher fatality rate than basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer.
Melanoma skin cancer can start at any time of life, but most commonly occurs after puberty. It is the sixth most common form of cancer in men and the seventh most common in women.
If detected in its early stages this skin cancer can be treated. Surgical removal can cure this disease in most cases. If the disease is in the malignant stage and has spread to lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 30-40%. If it has spread further to inner organs (liver, bones, brain, etc.) the 5-year survival rate drops to 12%.
Family history plays a big role in this form of skin cancer. If the family has a history developing melanoma skin cancer or prominent or irregular moles the risks are higher.
Sunburn greatly increases the chance of melanoma skin cancer as the overexposure to UV rays extensively damages the cells. Severe sunburn in childhood will increase the chance of skin cancer by 50%.
The most common form of oral cancer is lip cancer. Lip cancer is related to changes caused by excessive exposure to UV rays. A sore on the bottom lip can be the start of a symptom of this skin cancer and is called squamous cell cancer.
Lip cancer is fairly easily treated with 97% of the cases cured. If your lip is abnormal, consider having it evaluated by a doctor immediately.