What is melanoma skin cancer


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Melanoma is a cancer of the skin. To understand Melanoma skin cancer you must first understand how the skin works and the types of tumors and there relation to cancer.

The Skin

The skin is the bodies largest organ. It has many functions some of which are: temperature regulation, heat, sunlight infection and injury protection. Melanocytes produce melanin. Melanin is what gives the skin the color you currently are wearing. When the skin is exposed to the sun, the melanocytes produce a much greater amount of pigment(In other terms this is known as dye or coloring). This causes what is known as a tan.

Sometimes, clusters of melanocytes form noncancerous growths called moles. When the moles of the person skin are removed they generally do not return.

Tumors The Two Types

The two types of tumors are Benign tumors and Malignant tumors.

Benign tumors

Benign tumors are not cancerous and are rarely life threatening. Benign tumors do not and are not capable of spreading to surrounding cells. Benign tumors can generally be removed and once they are removed generally do not return.

Malignant tumors

Malignant tumors unlike the generally harmless Benign tumors are in fact dangerous and in some cases life threatening. Malignant tumors are cancerous and if removed may grow back. Malignant tumors damage and sometime infect nearby cells. They can invade other organs and can enter into the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. The spread of cancer is called metastasis. Depending on the type of cancer determines to what body parts the cancer can spread.

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma simply put is when the melanocytes, in other terms the pigment cells, grow a tumor of the malignant variety. When Melanoma starts in the skin its known as cutaneous melanoma. Other types of Melanoma include ocular melanoma or intra ocular melanoma. Ocular melanoma or intra ocular melanoma are when the disease occurs in the eye of the patient.

How Common is Melanoma?

Melanoma is one of the most common forms of cancer. Chances of acquiring Melanoma increase with age. However Melanoma effects people of all ages, races, genders and ethnicities. In the United states it is expected that there will be an estimated 55,940 new cases of Melanoma each year. Of the 55,940 cases each year 33,910 will be men and 26,010 will be female.

Where Does Melanoma Occur on People of different Genders and Skin Colors?

Melanoma can occur on any skin surfaces and commonly occurs on the area between a man's shoulders and hips. For women Melanoma generally develops on the lower legs. For people of darker skin color, when it occur on the palms and soles of that person, as well as under the toe and fingernails of a darker skinned person.

Genetic Risk Factors

A gene known as BRAF may play a part in causing Melanoma. BRAF is a “switch” gene because it allows other cells to divide and grow. Mutations in this gene can lead to lack of growth or in some cases, explosive growth causing Melanoma skin cancer.

See Also

Malignant melanoma skin cancer
What is melanoma skin cancer
Alternative medicine
Causes and risk factors
Tests diagnosis
Nonmelanoma skin cancer
Melenoma skin cancer
Melinoma skin cancer
Non melanoma skin cancer

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