Melanoma is a skin disease consistent transformation into a cancerous (malignant) of melanocytes, which are cells that give skin its color. Melanoma usually occurs in adults, but can occasionally be found in children and adolescents.
The skin protects the body against heat, light, infection and injury. It consists of two main layers: the (exterior) epidermis and dermis (inner). Melanocytes are in the epidermis and contain a pigment called melanin, which gives color to the skin.
Melanoma is much more serious than other types of skin cancers, such as epitheliomas calls that originate in the basal or squamous (other types of cells of the epidermis) cells. Like most cancers, melanoma is best treated when caught early. Melanoma can spread (metastasize) quickly to other parts of the body through blood or called lymphatic system (Lymph nodes are small structures in the form of beans, which are found throughout the body; they produce and store cells that fight infection).
You should worry about talking to your doctor if you have any of the following signs and symptoms of a mole that already had before.:
- change in the size, shape or color.
- oozing or bleeding.
- lump or lumpiness on the moon.
- Melanoma can also appear on the body as a new mole. Men most often get melanoma on the trunk, head or neck; women most often get melanoma on the arms and legs.
- In any case, your doctor or dermatologist will examine your skin carefully. If a mole or pigmented area does not look normal, the doctor, in the query itself, which extirpated (local excision) and examine under a microscope to check for cancer. It is essential that this biopsy is done correctly.
Stages or “stages” of melanoma
Once melanoma is found, more tests will be done to determine if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. This process is called staging. The doctor needs to know at what stage of the disease to plan treatment.
The following stages or “stages” are used for melanoma:
Stage 0 Abnormal cells are found only in the outer layer of skin cells and do not invade the deeper tissues.
Stage I. The cancer is found in the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and / or on top of the inner layer of skin (dermis), but has not spread to nearby lymph nodes. The tumor has a thickness of less than 1.5mm
Stage II. The tumor has a thickness of 1.5 mm to 4 mm has spread to the bottom of the inner layer of skin (dermis), but not into the tissue below the skin or lymph nodes.
Stage III. Any of the following situations means that the tumor is in stage III:
- The tumor is more than 4 mm thick.
- The tumor has spread to the skin beneath the body tissue.
- There are additional tumors that have grown a centimeter of the original tumor (satellite tumors).
- The tumor has spread to lymph nodes in the area or there are satellite tumors that have grown from the original tumor and lymph nodes in the area.
Stage IV. The tumor has spread to other organs or lymph nodes far from the original tumor.
Recurrent. Recurrent disease means that the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may come back in the original site or elsewhere in the body.
In all there are treatments for patients with melanoma.
Four kinds of treatment are used:
- Surgery (removing the cancer)
- Chemotherapy (using drugs to kill cancer cells)
- Radiation therapy (using high-dose X-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells)
- Biological therapy (using the body’s immune system to fight cancer)
- Stages surgery is the initial treatment for all melanoma. The doctor may remove the melanoma using one of the following:
- conservative rescission. An operation in which any cancer remaining after the biopsy is removed, along with a small amount of skin around the cancer (usually less than 1 cm).
- Wide surgical excision. An operation in which the cancer and some of the skin around the tumor is removed. It may be necessary to take some skin from another area of the body to place it in the place where the cancer has been removed (graft).
- Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be in pill, or you can enter the body through a needle into a vein or muscle. It is said that chemotherapy is a systemic treatment because the drugs enter the bloodstream, travel through the body and can kill cancer cells throughout the body. If the melanoma occurs on an arm or leg, chemotherapy may be given with a technique called isolated arterial perfusion. With this method, the chemotherapy drugs are put directly into the bloodstream of the arm or leg where the melanoma is. This allows most of the medication goes directly to the tumor. Unfortunately, chemotherapy has not been shown to be effective in the treatment of melanoma, even as –the administered adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery to a person who has no detectable cancer cells in order to destroy any cancer cells that are left -. They are conducting clinical trials to find new effective chemotherapeutic drugs.
- Radiation therapy uses x-rays consists of high energy to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external radiation therapy) or materials that produce radiation (radioisotopes) in the area where cancer cells are found (internal radiation) through thin plastic tubes.
- The purpose of biological therapy is to try to get the body to fight cancer. It is also known as biological modifier response therapy (BRM) or immunotherapy. In this therapy natural or synthetic materials are used to boost, direct or restore the body’s natural defenses against disease. The most commonly used in melanoma is making interferon tests. They are conducting clinical trials to find other biological therapies that are effective.
Treatment for melanoma depends on the type and stage of the disease, age and general health. A melanoma patient has the option of receiving a “standard” treatment –of according to their effectiveness in a number of patients in former- studies, or either choose to take part in a clinical trial.
Surgery is currently the only treatment for melanoma standard. Clinical trials are designed to find better ways to treat cancer patients. They are conducting clinical trials in many countries for most stages of melanoma.
Treatment of a typical melanoma could consist of the following:
STAGES 0 and I
Removal. Conservative excision after biopsy or surgical excision made extensive outpatient basis. It could be a skin graft to cover the wound. They can also be removed lymph nodes around the tumor.
The most common options are:
- Wide surgical removal and examination of adjacent lymph nodes for possible metastases.
- Wide surgical removal of the tumor and nearby lymph nodes. It is being tested in clinical trials if the removal of lymph nodes improves outcomes.
- wide surgical excision followed by adjuvant systemic chemotherapy or biological therapy.
- wide surgical excision followed by chemotherapy given directly into the arm or leg where the melanoma was (isolated arterial perfusion).
The most common options are:
- Wide surgical excision with or without biological therapy. It could be a graft skin to cover the wound. Nearby lymph nodes may be removed if they contain cancer.
- Surgical excision followed by extensive chemotherapy given directly into the arm or leg where the melanoma was (isolated arterial percussion). Nearby lymph nodes may be removed if they contain cancer.
- wide surgical excision followed by adjuvant systemic chemotherapy or biological therapy. Nearby lymph nodes may be removed if they contain cancer.
The most common options are:
- Surgery to remove lymph nodes containing cancer or tumors that have spread (that have metastasized) to other areas of the body.
- Radiation therapy to relieve symptoms.
- A clinical trial of systemic chemotherapy and / or biologic therapy.
- Treatment will depend on several factors, such as the previously received treatment and where the cancer has recurred. Since there is no accepted treatment for recurrent melanoma, treatment may be in a clinical trial of systemic chemotherapy or biological therapy.