One the most common skin problems that people encounter today is melanoma. You may have had heard about this condition before, especially if you have researching the risks of skin tanning. However, this condition is not only related to skin tanning. There is actually more to it than what beauty magazines say. Here are the facts about melanoma along with its causes.
Basically, Melanoma is considered to be the most serious kind of skin cancer. It develops in your cells that produce melanin, which is the pigment that gives you the color of your skin. These cells are called melanocytes. This condition could also form on your eyes. There are also rare cases in which it develops on internal organs, like your intestines.
This condition could develop anywhere on your body. However, most often it develops in areas which have had extreme sun exposure, such as your legs, back, face and arms. Nevertheless, there are still instances that it occurs on areas which don’t get much sun exposure, like your feet’s soles, palms, and fingernail beds.
The two major symptoms are:
1. An observed change to an existing mole
2. An observed development of an abnormal looking growth that was not there before.
Nevertheless, it could still appear otherwise on normal-looking skin.
Knowing Normal Moles
For you to know whether you have melanoma or not, you should be aware of the characteristics of normal moles compared to abnormal ones. Also observe that they have a very distinct border which separates the surrounding skin from your mole itself. The shape is usually round or oval which could be as big as the size of a pencil eraser.
The majority of people have 10-40 moles, most of which develop by the age of 20. Although moles have the ability to change appearance through time, there are instances where some actually disappear with age.
There are people who may have one or more large, flat, irregularly bordered moles that have a mixture of colors, such as tan, brown, red or pink. Moles like these are medically known as dysplastic nevi. They have a high risk of being cancerous compared to normal moles.
Generally abnormal moles have an asymmetrical shape. They also have irregular borders. The colors are uneven and they usually have a diameter bigger than ¼ of an inch. Such kinds of moles are also evolving, in which they often change color and shape.
Other symptoms of abnormal moles include:
4. Change in texture
5. Pigmentation on the surrounding skin
The condition generally happens when something goes awry with your melanocytes, which are the cells that produce melanin in your body. Normally, there is an orderly and controlled way on how skin cells develop. In the process, healthy new cells push the older cells upward to your skin’s epidermis or top surface, in which they would die and flake off in no time. This process is being controlled by DNA. However, when there’s a problem with DNA, new cells might start growing out of control. They could then start forming a mass of very cancerous cells.
The factors that alter or damage DNA on your skin cells and the whole process of how it would lead to melanoma involves intense research. Cancer is a very complex disease which usually results from a mix of factors, such as genetic and environmental factors, instead of involving a single cause. Nevertheless, excessive UV radiation exposure is considered to be a leading factor on melanoma development, regardless of the radiation’s source.
UV Rays And Melanoma
The sun is the number one producer of UV Rays. However, commercial tanning beds and tanning lamps also produce this kind of radiation.
The UVB type of UV rays cause harmful changes on the skin cell’s DNA. They also activate oncogenes, which is a kind of gene that, when activated, could change normal cells into cancerous ones. However, the UVA type might be the one to more likely damage melanocytes, which leads to melanoma.