Previously published in examiner and Associated Content
All cancer cells are mutated cells that multiple and divide, and force out healthy cells in the process.
Melanoma is a cancer of the color pigmentation cells of the body called melanocytes. It is the melanin or color pigmentation which protects the skin from the damage of the rays from the sun. Darker individuals have more melanin in their system than fairer skin individuals.
These melanocycts often cluster together to form nevi, better known as moles. The good news is that most of these nevi are benign, but others are cancerous and become malignant melanomas.
Superficial spreading melanoma
Two thirds of all melanomas are of this kind. The cancer appears as a flat dark stain on a pre-existing mole.
Is a smooth nodular growth that is often blue black in color. This nodule has the ability to grow rapidly and spread to the lymph nodes.
Acral lentiginous melanomas
These growths account for most of the melanomas found in dark skinned people. Acral lentiginous melanomas grow quickly and spread on the hands, soles of the feet, and under the nail bed.
Lentigo maligna melanoma
Is the melanoma most common in skin which has been over exposed to the sun over a period of years. It is often found among the elderly.
The treatment for melanomas
The good news is that melanomas are treated successfully if caught soon enough and they have not spread to other tissue.
The treatment does depend upon the stage, the thickness, and location of the tumor growth and the general health of the patient suffering from this type of cancer.
Surgery is the basic treatment for removal of the growths found in the early stages before the cancer has spread.
Chemotherapy is given in advanced cases of melanoma when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Radiation therapy is used to kill any cancer cells that may have remained after the operation. The radiation is applied directly to the site where the melanoma was found.
Biological Therapy (immunotherapy)
This therapy is used to stave of recurrence of the cancer and to boost the immune system.
Melanoma is not as common in Montreal as the other forms of skin cancer, but it is still a very serious disease that needs immediate attention.