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Melanoma Monday 2014

Melanoma Monday” is observed on the first Monday of May and it is also termed as May Melanoma Skin Cancer Month where specific activities are conducted on national and local level. This day is also known as National Skin Self-Examination Day. People are advised and encouraged to undergo the examination of their skin for skin cancer.

Melanoma is a malicious tumor of melanocytes which are witnessed predominantly in skin and often are in the eye and bowel. It is one of the rare types of skin cancer but causes the majority (75%) of deaths pertaining to skin cancer. Melanocytes are generally present in skin, being responsible for the production of the dark pigment melanin. Despite many years of intensive laboratory and clinical research, the greatest chance of cure is in the early surgical resection of thin tumors.

How it is Observed

Melanoma Monday stresses melanoma prevention and early detection. It was established by the American Academy of Dermatology and is supported by cancer fighting organizations including The Skin Cancer Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Melanoma International Foundation, and the Billy Foundation. Myriads of free skin cancer examinations are offered across the country in the month of May, many on Melanoma Monday.

Melanoma is easily diagnosable and curable in its early phase. It is suggested to make a habit of periodically going through check up of whole body for any signs of melanoma.

Statistics about Melanoma

Around 60,000 new cases of malicious melanoma are detected in the US every year, mostly in males and in Caucasians. It is generally found in Caucasian populations living in hot and sunny climates compared to other groups. If a WHO report is to be believed nearly 48,000 deaths are registered pertaining to melanoma per year.

Symptoms of Melanoma

Early symptoms of melanoma are alterations to the shape or color of existing moles. The mole may ulcerate, itch or often bleed. Metastatic melanoma may display general symptoms i.e. loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, and fatigue.

Cause of Melanoma

Genetics

Familial melanoma is genetically heterogeneous, and loci for familial melanoma have been observed on the chromosome arms. Today, melanomas are detected only after they become conspicuous on the skin.

In the future, however, physicians will probably be able to detect melanomas depending upon a patient’s genotype, not simply his or her phenotype. A number of rare disorders which often run in families are considered to increase one’s possibility to develop melanoma. People with mutations in the MC1R gene are two to four times more prone to unearth melanoma than those with two wild-type copies of the gene.

Diagnosis

To detect melanomas, it is advisable to learn what they look like to be aware of moles and scan for changes (shape, size, color, bleeding or itching) and to show any suspicious moles to a physician knowledgeable about skin malignancy.

A popular method for keeping track of the signs and symptoms of melanoma is the mnemonic “ABCDE”:

  • Asymmetrical skin lesion
  • Border of the lesion is not regular
  • Color - melanomas generally have several colors
  • Diameter - moles larger than 6 mm are more prone to be melanomas than moles of lesser mm
  • Enlarging- Enlarging or evolving

People with a family medical background of skin cancer or of dysplastic nevus syndrome (multiple atypical moles) must visit a dermatologist minimum once a year to ensure they are not developing melanoma.

Treatments of Melanoma

The treatment of melanoma may involve surgical procedure to remove the tumor, adjuvant therapy, chemo- and immunotherapy, or radiation therapy.

Excisional Skin Biopsy

Excisional skin biopsy is the surgical removal of lesion with an adequate ellipse of surrounding skin and cells. The preferred surgical margin for the first hand biopsy should be narrow to prevent the obstruction of the local lymphatic drainage. The biopsy will encompass the dermal, epidermal, and subcutaneous layers of the skin, allowing the histopathologist to ascertain the thickness of the melanoma by microscopic scanning.

Small Pinch Biopsy

Nevertheless, for greater lesions i.e. suspected lentigo maligna, or for lesions in surgically odd areas (face, fingers, toes, eyelids, lips), a small punch biopsy can give proper information and will not hinder the final staging or depth analysis.

In no circumstances should the initial biopsy encompass the last surgical margin (0.5 cm, 1.0 cm, or 2 cm), as a misdiagnosis can lead to excessive scarring and morbidity from the process. Large initial excision will hinder the local lymphatic secretion and can affect further lymphangiogram directed lymphnode dissection. A small punch biopsy can be facilitated at any time wherein, for logistical and personal reasons a patient doesn’t want more invasive excisional biopsy. Small punch biopsies are least invasive and heal fast, generally without leaving any prominent scars.

Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH) Therapy

Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) therapy is often facilitated to detect metastases, although many individuals with metastases (even last-stage) have a normal LDH; extremely high LDH often signals metastatic dissemination of the disease to the liver. It is general for patients to detected with melanoma to have chest X-rays and an LDH test, and in some occasions MRI, CT, PET and/or CT/PET scans.


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