Melanoma – Basic introduction

Melanocytes are the “melanin” – pigment producing cells located in the bottom layer of skin epidermis, eye, inner ear, vaginal epithelium, bones, heart and meninges (the three coverings of brain and spinal cord). Melanoma is the malignant tumor of melanocytes that typically shows its presence on the skin, mouth, intestines or eye. Women mostly encounter melanoma on their legs while men usually found it on their back. The signs and symptoms of this malignant tumor is the sudden appearance of a mole on the skin or change in the symmetry or texture of the already present mole. A simple method has been suggested to check whether the skin abnormality is melanoma or not i.e. ABCDE. A denotes asymmetry – irregular, B denotes border – irregular, C denotes color – uneven tone, D denotes diameter – more than 1.5 cm, E denotes elevation – raised lesion. Any irregularity or change in the symmetry, edges, color, size or texture should not be ignored. A tender, itchy or red lesion which is not getting healed after long can be an alarming sign of melanoma.

It is further divided into Lentigo maligna, Lentigo maligna melanoma, Superficial spreading melanoma, Acral lentiginous melanoma, Mucosal melanoma, Nodular melanoma, Polypoid melanoma, Desmoplastic melanoma etc. Normally, diagnosis of melanoma is by proper examination, dermatoscopy or biopsy of the lesion.  X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET and PET/CTs, ultrasound, LDH testing and photoacoustic detection are also advised for investigation. Both genetic and environmental factors are responsible for this malignancy; however, doctors believe that prolonged sun exposure or tanning devices are still the main cause of producing melanoma in vulnerable persons.

As prevention is always better than treatment, so the correct use of sunscreen or sunblock creams can prevent the incidence of this tumor. Treatment of melanoma is surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy or adjunct treatment. However, at Rao dermatology, we offer wide range of non-invasive detection and treatment methods including Confocal microscopy, MOHS micrographic surgery, Dermoscopy and Photodynamic therapy. When surgery is necessary, or when a patient chooses to remove a mole for aesthetic purposes, we perform these procedures in-house in the privacy and comfort of our state-of-the-art surgical facility.

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