Malignant melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. However, if it's caught in time the cure rate is very high.
How did it happen and why?
The chemical called melanin, resides below our skin.
It is responsible for absorbing the ultraviolet radiation by turning dark and hence creating a tan look.
However the system fails with too much UV exposure and the underlying skin damage begins.
It could be some time or even years before you notice the damage. Time is of the essence!
Perhaps you can benefit from this true story, where the name has been changed for privacy purposes.
Evelyn was only 32 years old. She delayed going to the Dermatologist for over one year, always making all kinds of excuses. She had never heard of malignant melanoma.
About more than a year earlier in the month of July, she had gone on a family vacation.
They had sailed on this beautiful cruise ship to Mexico.
She had never worried about ultraviolet radiation nor was much familiar with sun protection.
She had noticed that as they sailed more towards south the sun got hotter and stronger.
She could not help the gorgeous ocean scenery and the clean air. So she spent most of her time on the top deck where the sun exposure was high and sun tanning was the name of the game.
On several days she chose to get off at the port of calls and enjoy the daily tours in the beautiful cities such as Mazatlan or Cabo San Lucas.
However, by mid day the UV index was usually over 10 and in the extreme range.
She had applied just a little sunscreen on her face but not enough to last thru the whole day.
She had never considered wearing sun protective clothing, sunburn prevention and avoiding UV exposure.
She had worn very little clothing in order to beat the heat, and had not used even a sun protection umbrella.
This was one of her most memorable trips with all the sights there were to see and things to do.
She had a brownish color skin mole on her back, the size of a pencil eraser as long as she remembers.
After she got back she noticed that most parts of her body were quite red. She indeed had a bad sunburn.
For the sunburn treatment she applied some over the counter sunburn remedies like Aloe Vera lotion to soothe the pain.
It seemed that as the days went by the sunburn itch decreased, so did the redness in her skin. Could a severe sunburn cause malignant melanoma?
A few months went by where she noticed that the mole on her back had really changed color to being pretty much all black.
At that point she was not aware of the ABCDE of skin moles as it is called in the field of Dermatology.
A few months later she noticed that her mole was kind of scaly and even peeling. A couple of times it was even itching and oozing blood.
Though concerned, she had no idea what had happened to her skin.
It was about a year before she finally made an appointment to have it checked out with her skin doctor who specializes in skin cancer and
malignant melanoma .
When she had told her Dermatologist about the condition of the mole, he cut it out right away and sent it to the pathologist for further diagnosis.
She never forgets the day while at work, when her skin doctor called with the results.
Doctor: Evelyn, are you sitting down? You had a bad cancerous mole. It was a malignant melanoma in the second stage phase. These cancerous moles typically range from stage one to stage four being the worst.
Evelyn: I can not believe what I am hearing.
Doctor: It seems that we caught it in its early stages. Even though it's not an emergency, but you need to make an appointment soon for surgery so we can cut more tissue in the surrounding area and go deeper into your skin.
Doctor: This will require a day in the hospital and general anesthesia. This will insure us that there are no skin lesions with melanoma skin cancer left in that spot.
However, Evelyn found out that there was a dermatologist who used more advanced techniques called Mohs surgery. This was good news, since it could be done in the doctor's office with just a little local anesthesia or numbness.
It has been several years since then and Evelyn has had no recurrence or health related problems. She got rid of a couple of other suspicious moles right away, which was diagnosed as being architecturally defective.
She also knows the ABCDE of moles now. Her doctor also taught her how to check her lymph nodes under her arms and in the groin area for any unusual lumps.
Now, she is doing all she can in prevention of skin cancer.
She wears sun protection clothing, UV sunglasses, UV hat, driving gloves and seeks shade as much as possible.
She also applies broad spectrum organic sunscreen to her face and any where that skin is exposed to UV rays.
Malignant melanoma is not always fatal, but everyone should be active in skin cancer awareness and sun safety.
Live a quality life and learn as much as you can about malignant melanoma!
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More information about skin cancer and melanoma can be found at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/melanoma .
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