Melanoma – What Is It?
Melanoma is a malignant tumor of the melanocytes in the skin. These melanocytes are found not only in but are also in the stomach and the eye. Melanoma is a rarer form of skin cancer. The reality is that it is the cause of majority of deaths caused due to skin cancer. Melanocytes are pigment cells that are present in the skin and melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer.
The disease melanoma is not new but its evidence is not found too often in ancient times. There is an evidence of melanoma occurring in nine Peruvian Inca mummies. The examinations were carried out in the 1960s. These mummies were approximately 2400 years old and they showed signs of melanoma in the skin and diffuse metastases to the bones. In 1787, John Hunter was the first to operate on metastatic melanoma. The tumor was preserved in the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
A microscopic examination of the specimen in 1968 led to its being proved the incidence of metastasic melanoma. The French Physician Rene Laennec was the first to explain melanoma as a disease. An English General Practitioner from Stourbridge was the one to give the first English language report of the disease. A person’s risk of developing this disease depends on intrinsic and environmental factors. The inherited genotype is the cause of the disease in the inherited factors, while the most common environmental factor is prolonged exposure to the sun.
Causes of Melanoma
Sun exposure may lead to harmful ultraviolet radiation and this may lead to damage to the DNA of cells. This is thymine dimerization and is this is left untreated it may lead to mutations in the genes of the cell. There are oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes and if the mutations occur in these genes, the result can be a form of tumor. The disease is most common in the back of men and the legs of women – the most commonly exposed areas of the body. The risk of developing the disease is influenced by socio-economic conditions and not outdoor occupations. The disease is more common in professional and administrative classes than in unskilled workers.
The intensity and duration of sun exposure, the level of skin pigmentation, and the age at which the sun exposure occurs are the different factors that result in melanoma. Minimizing the exposure to the ultraviolet radiation is one of the best methods to bring down the risk of developing melanoma. Going by sun protection measures and wearing sun protection clothing that protects against the sun brings down the incidence of melanoma. Wearing long–sleeved shirts, long trousers and broad-brimmed hats give protection from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. In the past sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher was suggested. But there are doubts about the efficacy of sunscreens to prevent melanoma. You should know what they look like and be aware of moles and verify for changes. These are the factors that influence the occurrence of melanoma.