Skin melanoma belongs to the category of human malignant neoplasms. It accounts for 1-4% of the total cancer rate. The incidence of skin melanoma is increasing annually. In the USA, over the past 2 years, the rate has almost doubled. The vast majority of patients are aged 30-50 years. In women of this age, it develops mainly on the lower extremities (lower leg), in men – on the corpus (usually the back); in individuals of both sexes of the older age group (65 years and older), melanoma is localized mainly on the face.
There are two types of moles:
- Melanoparous – common moles, birthmarks, papillomas.
- Melanosome – usually blue. From them, melanomas can form.
Causes and risk factors for melanoma
There are a number of reasons, risk factors that play a significant role in the onset and development of skin melanoma. They can be exogenous and endogenous in nature. These include:
- solar radiation (ultraviolet rays), especially for people with congenital or acquired nevi.
- ionizing radiation.
- chronic skin irritation.
- burns, frostbite.
- chemical, temperature or mechanical injuries of the nevi.
- self-medication of nevi.
- inadequately performed cosmetic interventions.
- the viral nature of melanoma.
- the state of the endocrine function.
- Puberty, pregnancy, climacteric changes in the body – are considered critical periods at which the risk of activation and malignancy (transformation of normal skin cells into malignant) of pigmented nevi increases.
- Family history. Many members of some families have dysplastic nevi (tissue development is unusual for this organ). These individuals are at a very high risk of melanoma and should be screened every 3-6 months. The same group includes persons who have previously had melanoma, as well as their relatives.
- Endogenous constitutional features and the nature of pigmentation, such as the color of the skin, hair, and eyes, the presence of freckles on the face, hands, body, the number, size and shape of moles in different body parts, the skin’s reaction to ultraviolet rays.
The sensitivity of the skin to sunlight depends on its type. There are 6 types of skin:
- white skin, freckles, red hair, blue eyes;
- skin not prone to tanning without freckles;
- skin prone to tanning – dark hair, brown eyes;
- dark skin of the Mediterranean type;
- very dark skin (Indians);
- black skin (Africans).
More often, skin cancer and melanoma occur under the influence of the radiant energy of the sun in individuals with photosensitivity of type 1 and type 2 skin, with difficulty sunbathing and easily getting sunburn.
Studies have shown that melanoma is more common and worse in blondes and redheads and is rare in the black population, usually affecting only the skin of fingers and toes or palms and soles. Melanomas are not observed at all in castrated for some reason men and women.
Clinic and diagnosis of melanoma
Three stages of skin melanoma are conditionally distinguished:
- early melanoma;
- advanced melanoma;
- late melanoma.
Detection of skin melanoma in its very early stages (early melanoma) contributes to its practical cure.
Since the connection of melanoma with moles, pigmented nevus is quite high, the initial symptoms of its manifestation may be as follows:
- the rapid growth of the nevus, previously remaining unchanged or increasing slowly.
- nevus induration, asymmetric increase in one of its sections.
- change in pigmentation (increase or decrease).
- the appearance of nevus sensation, the occurrence of itching, a burning sensation, tension, tingling.
- the appearance of papillomatous outgrowths, cracks, ulceration, bleeding.
- In stationary conditions, comprehensive diagnosis of skin melanoma is performed. It includes:
- radiophosphoric diagnostics;
- radiological diagnostics;
- morphological verification (confirmation).
The main methods of treating melanoma are:
The choice of this or that method is determined by the stage of the tumor process, the features of its course, the localization of the primary focus, the general condition of the patient.
The main way to prevent the development of melanomas is the timely removal of nevus pigmentosa in those places where they are systematically exposed to trauma. Absolute indicators for the removal of nevus are:
- their sudden increase;
- color change;
- pain, itching;
- bleeding or inflammation.
Prevention and protection measures
Clinical manifestations of the disease, fostering personal responsibility for their own health is the most important condition in the prevention of melanoma.
It is better to minimize the use of radiation therapy, inhalation, especially blondes and people with fair skin.
Avoiding exposure to the midday sun, especially by the sea, in tropical and subtropical countries. The time from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. is better spent in the shade of trees.
Compliance with safety regulations in production and in institutions with the presence of cancerogenic and chemical substances; conducting systematic medical and preventive examinations at such enterprises and institutions.
Immediate appeal to a specialist in case of a change in color, size of nevi or the appearance of a new pigment formation on the skin.