The body is filled with millions of cells that grow, divide, and die and systematically. “Cancer begins when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells” (American Cancer Society, 2013). Unfortunately, everyone knows someone who has been affected by one type of cancer or another. In this paper I will endeavor to discuss one form of cancer - melanoma; what it is, signs and symptoms, risk factors, methods of diagnosis, methods of treatment and prevention techniques.
Melanoma is a very aggressive, highly metastatic form of skin cancer that occurs when melanocytes begin to form abnormally, growing out of control. It is the most dangerous form of skin cancer due to its incredible ability to metastasize to other parts of the body, resistance to treatment, and ability to go unnoticed until late stages of growth. It is most common among 25-30 year old females, and accounts for 2-3% of all skin cancers, but rates of occurrence are rapidly increasing (Marieb & Hoehn, 2013).
Melanocytes, the cell type from which melanoma orginate, are the spider shaped epithelial cells that synthesize the pigment melanin. They are found in the deepest layer of the epidermis of the skin known as the stratum basale. Once synthesized, melanin accumulates in granule form called melanosomes in the in the end of the melanocyte’s processes. These melanosomes are then transferred to neighboring keratinocytes which provide a pigment shield, and protects the nuclei from the sun’s harmful UV radiation (Marieb & Hoehn, 2013).
Melanoma can occur wherever skin is pigmented, and most commonly arises from nevi, or moles, on the skin. A mole (nevus) is a pigmented benign skin tumor that develops from melanocytes. Most common sites of occurrence for women are on the legs, while the chest and back are the most common sites for men. The neck and face also common locations for occurrence among both males and females. Less common sites of occurrence originate in locations where there is little to no pigment, or receives almost no sun exposure such as in the beneath the nails or the in the mouth (American Cancer Society, 2013).
Early detection of melanoma is essential to survival. It is important to constantly make note of current moles and monitor them for change. Signs of change in a mole consistent with melanoma include; A for Asymmetry (the mole is not symmetrical in appearance), B for Border irregularity (the mole is not perfectly round), C for Color (there are many colors within the pigmented area of the mole), D for Diameter (the area is 6 millimeters or larger), and E for Evolution (the mole or lesion changes over time) (Marieb and Hoehn, 2013).
Other symptoms and warning signs consistent with melanoma are “a sore that does not heal, spread of pigment beyond the border to the surrounding skin, redness or a new swelling beyond the border, change in sensation...