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Cancer From The Sun - The Scourge Of Malignant Melanoma Skin Cancer

Posted Apr 12 2009 11:21pm

Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin. Melanin gives dark or tan color to the skin. But, when one of these cells gets out of control, it can produce one of the most dangerous cancers known. And more than 52,3237 people are told that they have melanoma every year just inside the USA.

Risks for getting Malignant Melanoma

The most common risk factor for melanoma known is excess ultraviolet rays. When melanoma was first studied, it was found that people who had jobs outside were much more likely to get melanoma. Then it was found out that mostly those who had gotten a sunburn that caused blisters were those who tended to go on to get a malignant melanoma.

People with fair skin are much more likely to get melanoma skin cancer. This might likely be related to the fact that they are more likely to get skin damage by sun exposure. But, this is not a hard and fast fact.

Those who have lots of nevi (moles) are more likely to get melanoma, particularly those who have over 50. Also, those with a particular type of mole called a dysplastic nevus are at higher risk.

Some people have had other skin cancers successfully treated including basal cell carcinoma. Those people are more likely to get melanoma.

If you have had other family members that had malignant melanoma, then you are more likely to get a malignant melanoma as well.

Finally, those who are immune compromised get melanomas more frequently. Whether a person has AIDS, an organ transplant needing medications to curtail the immune system or others using those medications, that person will have a higher risk.

One published case showed the role of genetics in malignant melanoma. A man who was a chimera got malignant melanoma. A chimera is someone who has different parts of the body having two different sets of DNA. This could be the result when twins are formed and somehow join into one body. The man in the journal article had large metastatic lumps of malignant melanoma tumors on one side of his body and the other side had none at all!

How to Identify a Melanoma

The only way to be sure whether a bump on your skin is a malignant melanoma or not is to have your doctor take it off and get it studied by a pathologist. However, there are some ways to know if you should be suspicious of one of those lumps or bumps.

Irregular Border - A malignant melanoma will typically have an uneven border. The usual mole has a sharp border. You can point to any spot on your skin and say for sure whether it is part of the mole or not. This is not the case with malignant melanoma.

Assymetric Shape - The malignant melanoma lesions typically have two halves that look different.

Different Color - Melanomas often will have different parts of the tumor that have different colors.

Size - most melanomas are larger than other moles. And they also tend to grow and may bleed or itch.

If you have a supicious lesion that you have a question about, get it checked by your doctor early. Getting that tumor removed early gives you a much better chance of survival. Especially if the bump is still quite small.

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