Melanoma develops when the cells that manufacture pigments for our skin, hair and eyes develop cancer, and can look like funny shaped moles. The most common form is melanoma to the skin. Many melanomas grow rapidly over weeks while others may evolve more slowly. When detected early, melanoma is easily treatable, but if untreated, it can spread cancer to other parts of the body and become impossible to get rid of.
Signs and Symptoms
Typically melanomas appear like funny shaped moles. We may be swollen, or itchy or bleed.
Melanomas are usually characterized by the following (called melanoma ABCDE):
Asymmetric-Not oval or round.
Borders are irregular-the mole’s borders are either blurred or poorly defined.
Colours–There will be a variety of colors on the mole, typically black, brown and white. Melanomas may be black, brown, purple, pink or blue, too.
Diameter–Normally the mole will be greater than 6 mm (slightly larger than a pencil’s end).
Evolving-The mole can continue to grow or shape to shift.
If you’re worried about any moles or freckles, you should have them checked out by an ASAP doctor, irrespective of whether they have all of the above apps.
Melanoma is normal from about 25 years old, and as you get older, the chances of developing melanoma increase.
90 percent of cases of melanoma may be associated with over-exposure to UV rays throughout your life–getting sunburnt, spending lots of time outdoors, or sunbed exposure.
Those with melanoma family history are at greater risk, so if you have melanoma family members, you are at greater risk.
The risk of developing melanoma is higher for people with fair skin. Hence the Maori and Pacific Islanders have very low melanoma levels.
Older men are especially prone to’ nodular melanomas,’ which appear like firm moles on the head and neck that are elevated.
If you’re worried about any moles on your skin see your doctor right away. The doctor will inspect the mole through a magnifying glass, and look for signs of melanoma telling the story.
If melanoma is suspected, the mole will usually be removed by your doctor along with a small area of the surrounding skin that will be tested for cancer cells.
You might have an MRI, ultrasound, blood tests or additional biopsies to see if the cancer has spread, depending on the results.
It is very common in New Zealand to have funny looking moles removed as a precautionary measure.
If the biopsy tests positive, you’ll need a second biopsy to ensure all the cancer cells have been removed completely.
If the cancer has spread and is in the later stages, your doctor may discuss radiotherapy, chemotherapy or medication. Sometimes supplements for men are advised to improve one’s immunity.