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How Can You Tell Melanoma

What Does Stage 1 Melanoma Mean

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In Stage I melanoma, the cancer cells are in both the first and second layers of the skinthe epidermis and the dermis. A melanoma tumor is considered Stage I if it is up to 2 mm thick, and it may or may not have ulceration. There is no evidence the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or distant sites .

Symptoms Of Subungual Melanoma

  • Over weeks to months the pigment band may become wider, especially at its base.
  • It usually becomes more irregular in pigmentation and can extend to involve the nail fold, known as Hutchinson Sign.
  • The pigmented lesion may ulcerate or bleed.
  • The nail bed will be painful.
  • A nodule may develop under the nail plate, lifting it up.
  • You may see a thinning, cracking or distortion of the nail plate.
  • In many cases a subungual melanoma is not pigmented.

What Skin Melanoma Looks Like

Cancerous changes in the skin are becoming more common in modern times. Melanoma can begin as a small skin growth, often protruding from the skin, and be light brown to black in color. These growths can be large or small, but they are typically extending up from the skin’s main layer and they have jagged and irregular edges. Melanoma often oozes and can also be cracked and bleeding at times. Unlike age spots, skin melanoma growths will change in size, growing as the cancer spreads. The cancer will extend into the lower layers of the skin while age spots remain on the surface of the skin. Melanoma can be found anywhere on the body where sun exposure has occurred, but is most commonly found on the face, neck, ears, back, scalp and arms.

While age spots and skin melanoma can be removed and treated, a visit to a skin care specialist or a dermatologist is recommended as quickly as possible. Since melanoma can spread to other areas of the body, quick treatment is necessary to avoid future health problems. Most growths will be removed from the skin and then a biopsy will be performed to check for cancerous cells and malignancy issues. If these cancer cells are present, various treatment options are available while a lifetime of frequent skin checkups will also be scheduled.

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Can Changing My Diet Help Prevent Melanoma

The American Cancer Society advocates eating a plant-based diet over an animal-based diet as part of a healthy plan to avoid all cancers. Growing evidence suggests that plants pack a powerful punch in any fight against cancer because they’re nutritious, cholesterol-free and fiber-rich.

Theres no doubt that a healthy diet can protect your immune system. Having a strong immune system is important to help your body fight disease. Some research has shown that a Mediterranean diet is a healthy choice that may help prevent the development of cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider about the role food plays in lowering your cancer risks.

Some skin and immune-system healthy foods to consider include:

  • Daily tea drinking: The polyphenols in tea help strengthen your immune system. Green tea contains more polyphenols than black tea.
  • High vegetable consumption: Eating carrots, cruciferous and leafy vegetables is linked to the prevention of cutaneous melanoma.
  • Weekly fish intake: Study participants who ate fish weekly seemed to avoid developing the disease when compared to those who did not eat fish weekly.

What Is The Prognosis And Survival Rates For Melanoma By Stage

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Survival rate. A persons response to treatment will affect their chance of survival. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for stage 4 melanoma is 1520 percent. This means that an estimated 1520 percent of people with stage 4 melanoma will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.

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What Happens If A Mole Comes Back Abnormal

An abnormal mole could be a melanoma symptom, or it could be benign, meaning it’s not cancerous. To determine what type of cells make up the mole, the dermatologist will remove the mole for a biopsy. A skin biopsy is usually a straight-forward procedure, says Saira George, M.D., MD Anderson dermatologist.

What Are The Signs Of Melanoma

Knowing how to spot melanoma is important because early melanomas are highly treatable. Melanoma can appear as moles, scaly patches, open sores or raised bumps.

Use the American Academy of Dermatology’s “ABCDE” memory device to learn the warning signs that a spot on your skin may be melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.
  • Border: The edges are not smooth.
  • Color: The color is mottled and uneven, with shades of brown, black, gray, red or white.
  • Diameter: The spot is greater than the tip of a pencil eraser .
  • Evolving: The spot is new or changing in size, shape or color.

Some melanomas don’t fit the ABCDE rule, so tell your doctor about any sores that won’t go away, unusual bumps or rashes or changes in your skin or in any existing moles.

Another tool to recognize melanoma is the ugly duckling sign. If one of your moles looks different from the others, its the ugly duckling and should be seen by a dermatologist.

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What Are The Worst Cancers To Get

Top 5 Deadliest Cancers

  • Prostate Cancer. U.S. deaths in 2014: 29,480. How common is it?
  • Pancreatic Cancer. U.S. deaths in 2014: 39,590. How common is it?
  • Breast Cancer. U.S. deaths in 2014: 40,430. How common is it?
  • Colorectal Cancer. U.S. deaths in 2014: 50,310. How common is it?
  • Lung Cancer. U.S. deaths in 2014: 159,260.

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How Do I Know If I Just Have Age Spots

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Age spots are often called liver spots or sunspots. They usually occur in people over 50 and in areas that are exposed to the sun.

Age spots can definitely look like cancerous growths but even if they are not diagnosed as cancer, they are clear signs that you have spent a lot of time in the sun. The age spots are the skins attempt to protect it from even further sun damage.

Age spots do not require medical care but it is still important to be looked at by a physician. They also will not fade over time but can be removed for cosmetic reasons if you should decide. It may be a sign of melanoma if spots are black, irregular, or have changed. Please contact your doctor for an evaluation if you have noticed any concerning changes.

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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About A Skin Cancer Screening

Exposure to the ultraviolet rays that come from the sun plays a major role in causing skin cancer. You are exposed to these rays anytime you are out in the sun, not just when you are at the beach or pool. But you can limit your sun exposure and help reduce your risk of skin cancer if you take a few simple precautions when out in the sun. These include:

  • Using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30
  • Seeking shade when possible
  • Wearing a hat and sunglasses

Sunbathing also increases your risk of skin cancer. You should avoid outdoor sunbathing and never use an indoor tanning salon. There is no safe amount of exposure to artificial tanning beds, sunlamps, or other artificial tanning devices.

If you have questions about reducing your risk of skin cancer, talk to your health care provider.

Can Skin Cancer Spread To Other Parts Of The Body

Yes, it can. However, it depends on the type of skin cancer and its stage.

Non-melanoma skin cancers are less likely to spread. Basal cell carcinoma usually does not migrate to other parts of the body, but there is a small chance that squamous cell cancer will do so.

Melanoma skin cancer spreads more readily than non-melanoma, making it more dangerous. It can spread to the lymph nodes and, from there, to other organs in the body.

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The Importance Of Annual Skin Cancer Checks

Annual skin cancer screenings are an essential tool that we use at Cochise Oncology to identify potential skin cancer lesions early. These assessments can give you peace of mind and identify potential cancer candidates.

A skin cancer screening is a physical examination performed by oncologists to determine the health of your skin. Doctors will look for large, asymmetric moles or skin imperfections that indicate possible cancer. If they discover a skin imperfection requiring closer inspection, they may take a small sample of tissue and send it to the lab for further investigation.

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Can You Have Melanoma For Years And Not Know

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How long can you have melanoma and not know it? It depends on the type of melanoma. For example, nodular melanoma grows rapidly over a matter of weeks, while a radial melanoma can slowly spread over the span of a decade. Like a cavity, a melanoma may grow for years before producing any significant symptoms.

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Finding Skin Cancer Early

When skin cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better. Get regular health checkups and see your doctor if you have any symptoms or are worried about your health.

If you have a higher than average risk, you may need to visit your doctor more often to check for skin cancer. Talk to your doctor about what can help find skin cancer early including checking your skin and having skin exams by a trained health professional.

Early Warning Signs Of Melanoma

The key to detecting melanoma early is to know what to look for and where to look for it. This isnt always easy, as melanoma can be a master of disguise. It may look like an age spot, a bruise, a sore, a cyst, a scar or a dark line beneath your nail. You may not feel a melanoma, but there are times that it may itch, hurt or bleed.

The ABCDE method may help you determine whether an abnormal skin growth may be melanoma:

  • A is for asymmetry: Does the mark look different on each half?
  • B is for border: Are the edges jagged or irregular?
  • C is for color: Is your lesion uneven in color with specks of black, brown and tan?
  • D is for diameter: Is your lesion getting larger?
  • E is for evolving or elevation: Has your lesion changed in size, shape or texture over the past few weeks or months?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, or even maybe, see a dermatologist for a proper evaluation. The only way to be sure whether a mole is melanoma is to visit a doctor.

Other melanoma warning signs may include:

  • Sores that dont heal
  • Pigment, redness or swelling that spreads outside the border of a spot to the surrounding skin
  • Itchiness, tenderness or pain

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What Is The Outlook For People With Skin Cancer

Nearly all skin cancers can be cured if they are treated before they have a chance to spread. The earlier skin cancer is found and removed, the better your chance for a full recovery. Ninety percent of those with basal cell skin cancer are cured. It is important to continue following up with a dermatologist to make sure cancer does not return. If something seems wrong, call your doctor right away.

Most skin cancer deaths are from melanoma. If you are diagnosed with melanoma:

  • The five-year survival rate if its detected before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 99%.
  • The five-year survival rate if it has spread to nearby lymph nodes is 66%.
  • The five-year survival rate if it has spread to distant lymph nodes and other organs is 27%.

What Does A Cancerous Mole Look Like

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Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders. C is for Color. Multiple colors are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black.

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Laser Surgery Is Not Fda

Laser surgery is not currently used as a standard treatment for basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. It can, however, be an effective secondary treatment. Laser treatment is sometimes used after Mohs surgery to complete the removal of cancer cells. Lasers are effective at removing precancerous lesions, but have not been proven effective at treating cancer yet.

Important Questions To Ask

Why am I having these tests?

What will the tests involve?

When do I get the results?

Can I bring someone with me when I get the results?

At diagnosis:

What is my stage of melanoma and what does that mean?

Who will be part of the multi-disciplinary or clinical team looking after me?

Do I need any further tests or scans before my treatment?

Advanced melanoma

What is your rationale for the prescribed treatment?

Is the treatment you are suggesting recommended in the Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Melanoma in Australia and New Zealand, and if not, what is your rationale for the treatment you are suggesting?

Should I consider getting a second opinion if the surgery/treatment is complex or controversial?

Which treatments are funded and can I be treated in the private sector with an unfunded drug and be treated at the same time in the public sector with a funded drug?

Would there be different treatment options if I were treated privately?

Should I consider enrolling in a clinical trial and if so what trials are there available for my prognosis and stage of cancer?

Are clinical trials the only option for my stage of melanoma?

Is this treatment aimed at helping me live longer or controlling my symptoms?

What are the risks and side-effects of treatment?

Will the treatment cause me a lot of pain, and if so how will we deal with that?

Is there anything I can do to help me cope with the effects of treatment?

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Melanoma: What Women Need To Know About This Skin Cancer

Its easy to think that skin cancer isnt serious. After all, most skincancers are usually treatable when caught early. But its important tounderstand the statistics. About 87,000 people are diagnosed annually withmelanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, according to the AmericanCancer Society. While men are almost twice as likely to die from thiscancer, there are some important facts about melanoma that every womanshould know:

  • Women 49 or younger have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer, except breast or thyroid cancer.
  • Until the age of 49, more white women develop melanoma than white men.

Here’s how to identify melanoma and prevent skincancer.

Who Is At Risk

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People with fair skin and lighter eyes and hair tend to be particularlyvulnerable to skin cancer. Other risk factors include a family history ofmelanoma, more time spent unprotected in the sun, early childhoodsunburns, immunosuppressive disorders, a weakened immune system, and havingmany freckles or moles.

Both men and women are at risk, but there is one troublingtrend: an alarming surge in melanoma rates in young women.This is largely due to tanning from the sun and in tanning salons. Tanning either at beaches or salons is a major risk factor forskin cancers.

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How Can You Tell If A Spot Is Skin Cancer

Redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole. Color that spreads from the border of a spot into surrounding skin. Itching, pain, or tenderness in an area that doesnt go away or goes away then comes back. Changes in the surface of a mole: oozing, scaliness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump.

When Should I See My Doctor

Its important to check your own skin regularly to find any new or changing spots.

See your doctor or dermatologist straight away if you notice any changes to your skin, such as:

  • an âugly ducklingâ a spot that looks or feels different to any others
  • a spot that changes size, shape, colour or texture over time
  • a sore that doesnt go away after a few weeks
  • a sore that itches or bleeds

See the âABCDEâ of skin cancer, above.

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What Do We Mean By Stage Of Melanoma And Why Is It Important To Know

The stage of melanoma in the body is about how far advanced it is. This is important because:

  • Melanoma stages are determined by the thickness, depth and spread in the body. How far advanced the melanoma is when diagnosed influences a persons outcome.

  • For people who are treated early, when melanoma affects only the superficial layers of the skin, the prognosis is excellent and the disease is often curable. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body it can be harder to treat.

StagesStage 0 – abnormal cells found in the epidermis. Stage 1 – the melanoma is not more than 2mm thickStage 2 – more than 2 to 4mm thick with no spread to the lymph vessels or lymph nodesStage 3 – any thickness that has spread to lymph vessels or lymph nodesStage 4 – the melanoma has spread to other parts of the body

Possible Signs And Symptoms Of Melanoma

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The most important warning sign of melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color.

Another important sign is a spot that looks different from all of the other spots on your skin .

If you have one of these warning signs, have your skin checked by a doctor.

The ABCDE rule is another guide to the usual signs of melanoma. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • B is for Border:The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color:The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter:The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across , although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  • E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Some melanomas dont fit these rules. Its important to tell your doctor about any changes or new spots on the skin, or growths that look different from the rest of your moles.

Other warning signs are:

  • A sore that doesnt heal
  • Spread of pigment from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
  • Redness or a new swelling beyond the border of the mole
  • Change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain
  • Change in the surface of a mole scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump

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