By Dr. Amit Patil, Cosmetic/Plastic Surgery
Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can then spread to other areas of the body.
Melanoma is a cancer that usually starts in a certain type of Skin cell; melanocytes are the cells that can become melanoma. They make a brown pigment called melanin. Which gives the skin its tan or brown colour. Melanin has the property which helps in protecting the deeper layers of the skin from harmful effects of the sun. Melanoma usually occurs on parts of the body that have been overexposed to the sun.
Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes.
Most melanoma still make melanin, so melanoma tumours are brown or black, but some do not make melanin and can appear pink, tan or white. It can be more serious than the other forms of skin cancer because it may spread to other parts of the body and cause serious illness and death. Since it occurs on the skin where they are visible, often patients can diagnose the same. Early diagnosis is crucial and if diagnosed early can be treated and cured with some surgery.
Types of Melanoma:
- Superficial spreading Melanoma – This is one of the most common type of melanoma. It starts with brown spots and is on the outer layer of the skin, it becomes dangerous when or if it invades the lower layer of the skin.
- Nodular Melanoma – It is usually a raised lump on the surface of the skin that is often red, pink, and brown and feels firm to touch. It is a fast growing and aggressive form of melanoma, so if it’s observed or suspected it’s advisable to see the practitioner without delay.
- Lentigo Maligna Melanoma (LMM) – This is generally found in old people it begins as a large spot to the over exposed areas of the skin. It may grow slowly over many years until it penetrates more deeply into the skin.
- Acral Lentiginous Melanoma – This is uncommon type of melanoma and is most commonly found on the palms, soles or fingernails. In the nails, they most often present as a long streak of pigment in the mail or discolouration in the skin around the nail.