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How Dangerous Is Melanoma Skin Cancer

Who Is At Risk

How Dangerous is Melanoma? Is it Treatable?

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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What Is Most Dangerous Skin Cancer

1. Nodular melanoma

An most dangerous form of melanoma that looks various from common melanomas they are raised from the start and have an even coloring . This kind of melanoma grows really rapidly and needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

2. Basal cell carcinoma

This is the most typical but least dangerous kind of skin cancer. It grows slowly, generally on the head, neck and upper torso. It may look like a lump or dry, scaly area. It can be red, pale or pearly in color. As it grows, it may ulcerate or resemble a sore that does not recover correctly.

3. Squamous cell carcinoma

This type of skin cancer is not as dangerous as melanoma but may infect other parts of the body if not treated. It grows over some months and appears on skin most often exposed to the sun. It can be a thickened, red, flaky spot that may bleed quickly, crust or ulcerate.

Five Tips For Skin Cancer Prevention

Fortunately, all types of skin cancer are preventable. Here are five tips for skin cancer prevention:

  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, every three hours while in the sun. Hold a spray nozzle 1 centimeter from the skin to ensure proper application.
  • Steer clear of peak sunlight hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. While outside, wear a hat or visor and sunglasses.
  • Avoid getting a tan. While some people have a misconception that having a tan is healthy, the truth is that a tan occurs when UV light damages DNA, and that sends a signal to the skin to produce and migrate melanin to the upper layers of the skin to protect it from further DNA damage. The signals that give people a tan are actually the types of changes on a molecular level that can cause skin cancer.
  • Have yearly skin checks by a dermatologist, especially if you have a personal history of skin cancer or sunburns.
  • Do a skin self-exam, head to toe, once a month before or after a shower.
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    Diagnosis And Staging What It Means For You

    How is melanoma diagnosed?

    To diagnose melanoma, a dermatologist biopsies the suspicious tissue and sends it to a lab, where a dermatopathologist determines whether cancer cells are present.

    After the disease is diagnosed and the type of melanoma is identified, the next step is for your medical team to identify the stage of the disease. This may require additional tests including imaging such as PET scans, CT scans, MRIs and blood tests.

    The stage of melanoma is determined by several factors, including how much the cancer has grown, whether the disease has spread and other considerations. Melanoma staging is complex, but crucial. Knowing the stage helps doctors decide how to best treat your disease and predict your chances of recovery.

    How Often Does Scc Spread

    MELANOMA SKIN CANCER

    Studies suggest that around 1.4% of people with SCC will experience metastasis.

    As with BCC, the five-year survival rate is highhovering around 99%in the absence of metastasis. With metastasis, the three-year survival is roughly 29% in women and 46% in men.

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    What Is A Common Mole

    A common mole is a growth on the skin that develops when pigment cells grow in clusters. Most adults have between 10 and 40 common moles. These growths are usually found above the waist on areas exposed to the sun. They are seldom found on the scalp, breast, or buttocks.

    Although common moles may be present at birth, they usually appear later in childhood. Most people continue to develop new moles until about age 40. In older people, common moles tend to fade away.

    Another name for a mole is a nevus. The plural is nevi.

    Causes Of Skin Cancer

    Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Anyone can be at risk of developing skin cancer, though the risk increases as you get older.

    The majority of skin cancers in Australia are caused by exposure to UV radiation in sunlight.

    Some factors that increase your risk of skin cancer include:

    • sunburn

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    How Dangerous Is Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer & Is It Contagious

    We know that nonmelanoma skin cancer i.e. keratinocyte carcinoma is a common form and is curable. Hence, doctors may estimate the statistics related to nonmelanoma skin cancer easily, as individual cases do not report to cancer registries. According to the estimation, approximately 3million people in the United States undergo diagnose with nonmelanoma skin cancer yearly. Basal type of cell carcinoma is common aa compared to the squamous type of cell carcinoma. Approximately 80percent of nonmelanoma skin cancer is of BCC i.e. basal cell carcinoma. Each year, approximately 2,000 people die from squamous and basal cell skin cancers.

    Most of the deaths have declined during the last few years and take place only in elder people. However, in general, people diagnosed with skin cancer, especially of nonmelanoma type are more than 70years. Also, the survival rate of skin cancer patients increases when the cancer is identified at the first stage or before it grows and spread to ones lymph nodes and other distant body parts. Lymph nodes refer to small and beam shaped organs, which help in fighting with internal infections.

    Normal Mole: Smooth Border

    Mole vs Melanoma

    More examples of ordinary moles: a uniformly tan or brown skin discoloration, 1 to 2 mm in diameter, a larger skin discoloration, a mole that is slightly raised above the surface of the skin, a mole that is more clearly raised above the skin, and a pink or flesh-colored mole.

    All of these are normal, and even a single mole may go through these stages over time. However, all of them have a smooth border and are clearly separated from the surrounding skin, in contrast to a melanoma tumor.

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    When Should I Call My Doctor

    You should have a skin examination by a doctor if you have any of the following:

    • A personal history of skin cancer or atypical moles .
    • A family history of skin cancer.
    • A history of intense sun exposure as a young person and painful or blistering sunburns.
    • New or numerous large moles.
    • A mole that changes in size, color or shape.
    • Any mole that itches, bleeds or is tender.

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    Receiving a diagnosis of melanoma can be scary. Watch your skin and moles for any changes and seeing your doctor regularly for skin examinations, especially if youre fair-skinned, will give you the best chances for catching melanoma early when its most treatable.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/21/2021.

    References

    So How Dangerous Is Melanoma Skin Cancer Really

    Melanoma skin cancer, when detected early, is highly treatable and highly curable when. Melanoma that has gone undetected, however, and has spread throughout the body, is much harder to treat and can even be deadly. Thats why melanoma is probably the skin cancer name you recognize – you probably havent heard of anyone dying from a basal cell carcinoma, but you may have heard of a celebrity, or even someone you know personally, battling a serious case of melanoma skin cancer. The singer and celebrity Bob Marley tragically passed away at just 36 from melanoma that wasnt detected early, and while its nothing to live in fear of, it certainly has a scare factor.;

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    What Is Skin Cancer And Melanoma

    Skin cancer is a disease that occurs when your skin cells grow abnormally, usually from too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

    This uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells forms a tumour in the skin. Tumours are either benign , or malignant .

    Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer: each year, more than 13,000 Australians are diagnosed with a melanoma and almost 980,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancers are treated. Skin cancer is mostly preventable, and there are effective treatment options available.

    Skin cancers are named according to the cells in which they form. There are 3 main types:

    • Basal cell carcinoma begins in the lower segment of cells of the epidermis your outer layer of skin. These tend to grow slowly, and rarely spread to other parts of the body.
    • Squamous cell carcinoma grows from the flat cells found in the top layer of your epidermis. SCC can grow quickly on the skin over several weeks or months. Bowens disease is an early form of SCC that hasnt grown beyond the top layer of skin.
    • Melanoma grows from cells called melanocytes cells that give your skin its colour. Melanoma is the rarest type of skin cancer but is considered the most serious because it can spread quickly throughout the body.

    BCC and SCC are also called non-melanoma skin cancers. BCC represents more than 2 in 3 non-melanoma skin cancers, and around 1 in 3 are SCC. There are other types of non-melanoma skin cancers, but they are rare.

    Risk Of Further Melanomas

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    Most people treated for early melanoma do not have further trouble with the disease. However, when there is a chance that the melanoma may have spread to other parts of your body, you will need regular check-ups.;Your doctor will decide how often you will need check-ups everyone is different. They will become less frequent if you have no further problems.;After treatment for melanoma it is important to limit exposure to the sun’s UV radiation.;As biological family members usually share similar traits, your family members may also have an increased risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. They can reduce their risk by spending less time in the sun and using a combination of sun protection measures during sun protection times.;It is important to monitor your skin regularly and if you notice any changes in your skin, or enlarged lymph glands near to where you had the cancer, see your specialist as soon as possible.;

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    Benign Tumors That Start In Melanocytes

    A mole is a benign skin tumor that develops from melanocytes. Almost everyone has some moles. Nearly all moles are harmless, but having some types can raise your risk of melanoma. See Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer for more information about moles.

    A Spitz nevus is a kind of mole that sometimes looks like melanoma. Its more common in children and teens, but it can also be seen in adults. These tumors are typically benign and dont spread. But sometimes doctors have trouble telling Spitz nevi from true melanomas, even when looking at them under a microscope. Therefore, they are often removed, just to be safe.

    What Is A Dysplastic Nevus

    A dysplastic nevus is a type of mole that looks different from a common mole. A dysplastic nevus may be bigger than a common mole, and its color, surface, and border may be different. It is usually more than 5 millimeters wide . A dysplastic nevus can have a mixture of several colors, from pink to dark brown. Usually, it is flat with a smooth, slightly scaly, or pebbly surface, and it has an irregular edge that may fade into the surrounding skin. Some examples of dysplastic nevi are shown here. More examples are on the What Does a Mole Look Like? page.

    Dysplastic Nevi Photos

    This dysplastic nevus has a raised area at the center that doctors may call a fried egg appearance.

    This dysplastic nevus is more than 5 millimeters in diameter.

    This dysplastic nevus is more than 10 millimeters wide .

    A dysplastic nevus may occur anywhere on the body, but it is usually seen in areas exposed to the sun, such as on the back. A dysplastic nevus may also appear in areas not exposed to the sun, such as the scalp, breasts, and areas below the waist . Some people have only a couple of dysplastic nevi, but other people have more than 10. People who have dysplastic nevi usually also have an increased number of common moles.

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    How Is Melanoma Staged

    Melanoma stages are assigned using the TNM system.

    The stage of the disease indicates how much the cancer has progressed by taking into account the size of the tumor, whether its spread to lymph nodes, and whether its spread to other parts of the body.

    A doctor can identify a possible melanoma during a physical exam and confirm the diagnosis with a biopsy, where the tissue is removed to determine if its cancerous.

    But more sophisticated technology, such as PET scans and sentinel lymph node biopsies, are necessary to determine the cancers stage or how far its progressed.

    There are five stages of melanoma. The first stage is called stage 0, or melanoma in situ. The last stage is called stage 4. Survival rates decrease with later stages of melanoma.

    Its important to note that survival rates for each stage are just estimates. Each person with melanoma is different, and your outlook can vary based on a number of different factors.

    Red Flag #: Headaches Or Visual Changes

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    Just like the liver, not everyone will notice symptoms of melanoma spreading to the brain. But when symptoms do show up, its usually in the form of headaches, problems with eyesight, paralysis on one side of the body, or seizures. If someone simply has a headache, that doesnt mean they have advanced stage melanoma, Dr. Yushak says. But if its a headache thats not going away after a week, and you never have headaches, then thats something that definitely needs to be checked out.

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    Taking Care Of Yourself

    Hearing that your cancer has spread is scary, but a lot of research is underway to find new treatments. And there are treatments available to try to stop the disease from spreading, so you can live longer.

    Its important to have support and to talk about your fears and feelings, too. Your doctor can help you find a cancer support group.

    These tips may help you feel better during melanoma treatment:

    • If you lose your appetite, eat small amounts of food every 2 to 3 hours instead of bigger meals. A dietitian can give you other tips on nutrition and eating during your cancer treatment. Ask your doctor for a referral.
    • Exercise can help you feel better overall and fight fatigue. But listen to your body, and balance rest and activity.
    • Get the kind of emotional support thats right for you. It could be from family, friends, your cancer support group, or a religious group.

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    How Quickly Can Melanoma Kill

    The ACS reports that the five-year relative survival rate for melanoma is 92 percent. Eighty-four percent of cases are diagnosed at a localized stage, for which the five-year survival rate is 98 percent. However, that figure dips to just 23 percent for cancers that have already spread to distant sites.

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    I’ve Been Diagnosed With Melanomawhat Happens Next

    Doctors use the TNM system developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer to begin the staging process. Its a classification based on three key factors:

    T stands for the extent of the original;tumor, its thickness or how deep it has grown and whether it has ulcerated.

    What Is Breslow depth?

    Breslow depth is a measurement from the surface of the skin to the deepest component of the melanoma.

    Tumor thickness: Known as Breslow thickness or Breslow depth, this is a significant factor in predicting how far a melanoma has advanced. In general, a thinner Breslow depth indicates a smaller chance that the tumor has spread and a better outlook for treatment success. The thicker the melanoma measures, the greater its chance of spreading.

    Tumor ulceration: Ulceration is a breakdown of the skin on top of the melanoma. Melanomas with ulceration are more serious because they have a greater risk of spreading, so they are staged higher than tumors without ulceration.

    N indicates whether or not the cancer has already spread to nearby lymph nodes. The N category also includes in-transit tumors that have spread beyond the primary tumor toward the local lymph nodes but have not yet reached the lymph nodes.

    M represents spread or metastasis to distant lymph nodes or skin sites and organs such as the lungs or brain.

    After TNM categories are identified, the overall stage number is assigned. A lower stage number means less progression of the disease.

    Red Flag #: Swollen Lymph Nodes

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    If melanoma spreads, it often goes to the lymph nodes first, says Melinda L. Yushak, M.D., assistant professor of hematology and medical oncology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. The cancer cells will first travel to the nodes closest to the original tumor, she says. Lymph nodes are located throughout your entire body, but large clusters are found in the neck, underarms, chest, abdomen, and groin. If the cancer has made its way to the lymph nodes, it usually wont be painful, but theyll feel swollen or even hard to the touch, Dr. Zaba says.

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