Melanoma – Causes, signs, and management remedies

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the cells that produce melanin. The pigment melanin is responsible for giving the skin its color. Advanced melanoma can form inside one’s nose, throat, or digestive tract. Studies show that the risk of melanoma increases in people under 40, especially women. Knowing the early signs of the disease is crucial since melanoma can be treated successfully if detected early.

There are five stages of melanoma. The cancer cells of Stage 0 melanoma are restricted to the epidermis, the top layer of skin. The epidermis and dermis, the deeper layer of the skin, both contain cancer cells in Stage I melanoma. Stage II melanoma is marked by tumor thickness and ulceration, while Stage III is marked by melanoma deposits in the skin and cancer spreading to nearby lymph nodes. The advanced stage of melanoma, also called metastatic skin cancer, shows the further spread of cancer to distant areas of the body.

Causes of advanced melanoma
The exact cause of melanoma is unknown, although exposure to harsh ultraviolet (UV) radiation, tanning beds, or lamps has been shown to increase one’s risk of getting the disease. One can develop skin disease anywhere in one’s body. Those with a family history of the disease or exposure to radiation or vinyl chloride are also vulnerable to metastatic melanoma.

Signs of advanced melanoma
An early sign of melanoma is the development of an unusual mole. Normal moles are minor and uniform in size and color. But melanoma moles have irregular shapes or borders and can be larger than 6 millimeters. If a mole grows in size, color, and shape and causes itchiness, it’s best to get it checked. Advanced melanoma may lead to chronic fatigue, swollen lymph nodes or liver, loss of appetite, jaundice, skin itchiness, headaches, and even seizures. Depending on where the metastatic melanoma has spread, one may experience chest pain, breathing issues, aching bones, paralysis, sleepiness, and swelling in one’s legs or abdomen.

Melanoma treatment options
The American Cancer Society reports that the five-year survival rate for patients with melanoma that has spread to surrounding lymph nodes is 66%. Surgery is a common way to treat it. Targeted therapy is another method to eliminate the tumor and its metastases selectively. Alternatively, immunotherapy aids a person’s immune system in recognizing and shrinking cancer cells. Other treatments for metastatic skin cancer include chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Opdulag is a standard treatment for advanced melanoma skin cancer. The therapy, given by intravenous (IV) infusions, works with one’s immune system and is used to fight cancer that has spread or cannot be surgically removed. If one experiences any early signs of melanoma skin cancer, it’s recommended to consult a doctor immediately.

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