According to experts like Dermatologist in islamabad melanoma and other types of skin cancers are related to sun and UV exposure. This means that controlling risk factors like sun exposure can help in preventing melanomas. Read on to know more about prevention of melanoma and what measures must be taken to remain disease free:
What is melanoma?
Melanoma—also known as ‘black tumor’ is a tumor of the skin cells that give pigment to the skin. Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, however, the regions mostly involved include—legs and trunk. Occasionally, melanoma can occur in the regions that do not receive a lot of sun exposure, such as the soles of the feet and palms of the hand.
Melanomas often begin in moles that are not uniform in appearance and don’t have an even border. However, they can also start in normal-appearing skin.
After diagnosis, melanoma is staged according to the spread of disease. These include:
- Stage 0—whereby the tumor cells are restricted to the top layer of the skin.
- Stage I—low risk tumor with no evidence of spread.
- Stage II—even though there is no evidence of spread in this stage, there is higher risk of recurrence.
- Stage III—this is the first stage of spread when the tumor has involved the lymph nodes.
- Stage IV—the melanoma has spread to the distant lymph nodes and internal organs.
What are the risk factors of melanoma?
Anyone can get melanoma, however, there are certain risk factors that increase the chances of cancer. These include:
- Fair complexion
- Weak immune system
- History of sun exposure
- Family history of cancer
- Having unusual moles
How can melanoma be diagnosed?
The diagnosis of melanoma is based on:
- Physical examination: the complete history and examination is the first step to making the diagnosis of melanoma.
- Blood tests: investigations like LDH and other tests are done before diagnosis.
- Biopsy: with high index of suspicion the healthcare provider will take a sample of the tissue involved and look for cancerous cells under the microscope.
- CT scan: of the internal organs to look for the spread of cancerous cells
- MRI scan: is used to check the metastasis to the spinal cord and brain.
- PET scan: also checks for metastasis of melanoma to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
How to prevent melanoma?
The key to preventing melanoma lies in:
- Sun protection: the sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., even on a cloudy day. During this time, exposure to the sun leads to greater absorption of harmful ultraviolet radiation. It is better to schedule outdoor activities that don’t fall in this time duration.
- Wearing protective clothing: using broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 and wearing protective clothing that prevent damage from UVA and UVB rays helps in preventing sun damage.
Children need special attention when it comes to sun protection as they spend more time outdoors and their skin tends to burn more easily. Caregivers should limit the children’s time in the sun to avoid sun damage.
- Avoiding tanning beds: tanning lamps and beds emit ultraviolet radiation that increase skin damage and enhance the risk of melanoma.
- Examining the skin regularly: as mentioned before, melanomas originate from moles and the presence of more moles on the body is a risk factor for melanoma. Regularly examining the skin to check for new growths helps in early diagnosis and prevention.
- Eat right: strengthening the immune system through eating right and working out helps to prevent cancers. Weakened immune system increases the risk of not on only melanomas but also other types of cancers.
Melanomas need early diagnosis and management by experts like Best Skin specialist in Karachi for cure, as this cancer has a high rate of spread to distant organs. Even after treatment, patients should adhere to strict follow-up to prevent relapse.