Melanoma: what is important to know about it?

Health Tips

Melanoma is considered an extremely insidious disease. This is one of the fastest growing tumors, which begins to metastasize very early. Oncologists say that with melanoma the size of a cherry, metastases in the internal organs can reach the size of a walnut. The number of cases especially increases after the beach season: the sun increases the risk of developing a tumor several times. The doctor tells Goodshapetips about the causes of melanoma and about preventive measures.

Read more: Melanoma: what is important to know about it?

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What is a melonoma? Dangerous
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Moles, melanoma Moles, melanoma Moles, melanoma Moles, melanoma
Causes of the disease dangerous
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Diagnosis of the disease Treatment
melanoma

Unusual moles

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a malignant neoplasm of cells containing melanin, a black pigment. Most often, melanoma forms on the surface of the skin and is clearly visible to the naked eye. And only in very rare cases, a tumor can develop on the mucous membranes of the mouth, conjunctiva, genital organs, intestines, as well as on retina of the eye.

Melanoma cells are loosely connected to each other, which, in part, explains the rapid growth of the tumor and rapid metastasis. Penetrating deep into the skin, pigment tumor cells penetrate into the lymphatic and blood vessels and spread throughout the body with the flow of blood and lymph.

Once in the lymph nodes and internal organs, melanoma cells “take root” there and begin to divide, forming “daughter” tumors – metastases. According to various studies, from 50 to 80% of all melanomas develop on the spot. moles.

Warning signs

Dangerous moles

On the body of each person, there are from 50 or more moles, nevi, birthmarks. Some of them are congenital, noticeable immediately at birth or appear within the first 2-3 weeks, others are acquired. The number and size of moles may increase slowly as the child grows, reaching a maximum during puberty and then some moles may even disappear.

All moles differ in size, color, shape: from barely noticeable dots to large marks with an uneven surface and hair. Moreover, to highlight the external signs of moles, which are dangerous in terms of development melanoma, very difficult.

A large, bumpy patch of black hair can be completely harmless. At the same time, a small, smooth and flat, dull-colored mole can become dangerous over time. Only a doctor with the help of a special examination can assume the “bad” nature of the mole.

However, there is a sign, upon the appearance of which it is necessary to urgently consult a doctor: these are any changes in the previously “calm” mole, the appearance of a new one and its rapid growth (within 3-8 months).

Risk factors

Signs of degeneration of a mole

The appearance of a mole of fuzzy blurry edges, rays, mesh around the circumference, asymmetry.

Development of an inflammatory halo in the circumference of a mole: areas of redness, the appearance edema.

An active increase in the area of ​​the mole over the past 3-8 months, the growth of the previously flat mole in height.

Color change moles: darkening, lightening, the appearance of uneven coloring with the inclusion of whitish or dark areas.

Bleeding or weeping surface of the mole, the appearance of crusts on its surface.

Itching and tingling in the area of ​​pigment formation, dense nodules next to the mole, enlargement of regional lymph nodes.

Remember: moles with such changes must be examined by an oncologist.

Causes of the disease

At-risk groups

They say that the more moles, the happier the person. However, statistics show otherwise: with the number of moles on the body, the likelihood of melanoma formation increases.

In addition to a large number of moles on the body, there are other risk factors:

The risk of developing melanoma is increased in those people who have already removed “bad” moles. Unfortunately, melanomas sometimes recur even after removal. Therefore, after the operation, you must strictly adhere to a special regimen: refrain from prolonged exposure to the sun, use sunscreen, observe for three years the scar at the site of removal of the mole and palpate the lymph nodes.

If the mole is removed on the arm, then the axillary lymph nodes should be checked, if on the leg – popliteal and inguinal, if on the face and head – the lymph nodes on the neck and in the paraclavicular region. Any changes in the area of ​​the scar should be alarming: induration, the appearance of pigmentation, ulceration, as well as induration and enlargement of the lymph nodes in these areas. In addition, after the operation, it is necessary to conduct a planned examination by a doctor for 2-3 years.

The chance of developing melanoma increases by 8-13% in people whose blood relatives have had skin cancer.

The risk factor is male gender and age over 50 years. However, women are only slightly behind men in the incidence of melanoma. The risk of developing melanoma in women increases with hormonal fluctuations: puberty, menopause, and especially during pregnancy and abortion. In women, melanomas often develop on the skin of the legs, and in men on the skin of the back and abdomen. Melanomas rarely develop on the face.

Fair-haired and light-eyed people are most susceptible to carcinogenesis, whose pale skin does not tan well and is highly susceptible to sunburn. A risk factor is also a large number freckles and red hair.

Sunburn without consequences

Causes of melanoma development

Trauma to a previously benign mole is the cause of 40% of melanomas. It is especially dangerous if the mole is constantly injured: clothes, waist belt, comb, razor.

Moreover, not only mechanical injury is dangerous, but also chemical, thermal, radiation. Therefore, moles should not be exposed to cauterizing substances, laser, liquid nitrogen (cryolysis), prolonged sun exposure.

In no case should you pull convex moles with a thread, pull them out of nevi hair, extreme care must be taken with shaving. It is also not recommended to use depilatory creams on skin with moles. If you have damaged a mole, it must be removed without waiting for dangerous changes.

Chronic trauma is a universally recognized cause of not only the development of melanoma, but also of all others. malignant formations. After an injury, the healing processes in the tissues are accelerated: the cells begin to actively divide, which makes them more like cancer cells (capable of constant division). The more often a mole is injured, the higher the likelihood of cancerous degeneration. In case of damage, there is a higher risk of getting “torn off” cells into the bloodstream, lymphatic vessels and spreading them throughout the body.

Diagnosis of the disease

dangerous sun

Overexposure to ultraviolet rays is considered one of the most common causes of melanoma. But this does not mean that you need to completely abandon sunbathing and hide under hats, tunics and umbrellas all summer.

The sun cheers up, destroys microbes, improves the condition of teenage skin, treats many diseases, primarily skin, colds and infections, has hardening action. So it is the most important natural source of health, especially for children.

However, everything is good in moderation. Excessive exposure to the sun is the strongest mutagenic factor, which causes, on the one hand, an increased formation of cancer cells, and on the other hand, a weakening of the body’s immune defenses. When, a few days after the “shock” rest, we forget about the painful consequences of a sunburn, serious changes occur in the body. How they end is a matter of chance.

And if for an adult often everything goes without consequences, then for our kids everything can end sadly. According to statistics, cases of melanoma in children are very rare, but almost always occur after sunburn.

Conclusion: you can and should sunbathe, but only in moderation. In central Russia, it is preferable to tan before 11.00 and after 16.00. Particular care must be taken tan rules children and people with skin light type I-II (light skin that does not tan well or does not tan at all). If you still “burned out” in the sun, try to be extra vigilant to yourself for 1-2 years after the burn.

Melanoma treatment

Diagnosis of melanoma

Diagnostics carried out by an oncologist or dermatologist. Most information about mole can be obtained through inspection. To do this, a layer of mineral oil is applied to a suspicious mole and examined using a special illuminated lens – a dermatoscope, obtaining an increase of 10-40 times. With such a study, the doctor can identify almost all signs of melanoma.

Modern clinics offer their clients a map of moles. With the help of a computer program, a detailed description and photographs of all existing moles on the body is compiled. Such a map allows you to accurately track all unwanted changes in pigmented formations.

In addition to the examination, a radioisotope study is used, based on the ability of melanoma cells to accumulate radioactive phosphorus.

If the surface of the mole becomes wet, bleeds or flakes, a cytological examination of the mole prints can give reliable results. To do this, a glass slide is applied to its surface, which is then studied under a microscope.

Biopsy and other invasive methods for the study of pigmented formations are categorically not used, since trauma can stimulate the oncological process. An already removed mole is poisoned for a biopsy in order to finally confirm or refute the diagnosis and develop further treatment tactics.

Melanoma treatment

If there are indications for the removal of a normal mole, without signs of malignancy, they resort to surgical intervention. The operation is usually performed under local anesthesia. The mole is gently removed with a small amount of tissue around. It is desirable that the material be sent for cytological and morphological examination. Cosmetic results from such an operation are usually very good.

Melanoma is removed surgically. In order to avoid metastasis and recurrence of the tumor, up to 3 cm of tissues are excised in the circumference of the tumor, as well as a part of the subcutaneous fatty tissue at the bottom of the wound. In some cases, preoperative radiation therapy is performed. Under the action of irradiation, division in tumor cells stops, the size decreases, which also reduces the risk of metastasis and recurrence after surgical removal.

Revolutionary new methods of treating oncological diseases, including melanoma, are currently being developed. Scientists have proposed gene therapy, when special genes are introduced into the body of a diseased person that contain the tumor from the inside. However, this technique is still at the experimental stage.

In addition to a large number of various moles, each of us has reliable mechanisms of natural antitumor protection. All altered cells that can become a source of the oncological process are recognized in a timely manner by our immune system and are destroyed.

Anti-cancer protection is so strong that it can hardly be destroyed by the action of a single factor. That is why melanoma accounts for only 1-1.5% of all malignant diseases in the world. Only by exposing ourselves to a complex of dangerous factors, we can become a victim of this disease.

Natalia DOLGOPOLOVA,
general practitioner

Photo: shutterstock.com

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