What is melanoma? What are the types of melanoma?
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It usually begins in the melanocytes, or the pigment-producing cells.
Melanoma usually develops in cells or body parts that have an increased exposure to the sun. For instance melanoma usually starts in the back for men, in the legs for women. In rare cases however, melanoma can also develop in other body parts and tissues, like the eyes or mouth.
While it can happen to anyone at any age, melanoma usually develops in people aged 50 years old and above. Recently however, melanoma has been occurring more commonly among teenagers and young adults.
Melanoma can develop from moles or other skin growths that have become malignant. However, most cases of Melanoma come from new growths. Melanoma will usually only affect the first layer of the skin or the epidermis. If it grows and becomes thicker, meaning, it spreads down to other layers, it can spread to other organs of the body.
Types of melanoma: Causes
Melanoma occurs when the melanin-producing cells in your skin malfunction. Skin cells normally develop in such a way that newer cells push older cells out towards the skin surface where they eventually fall off. However, when some cells get damaged, they might grow uncontrollably, eventually producing a mass of cancerous cells.
It is still unclear what exactly causes new cells to be damaged and malfunction. Doctors believe that it is a combination of multiple factors including one’s genes, and an overexposure to UV rays.
One huge source of UV rays is the sun. Some doctors believe that overexposure to the sun might cause melanoma, especially if your skin type is more prone or sensitive. However, melanoma may sometimes develop inside of the body, for instance in the nose or throat.
Spotting melanoma often involves spotting the growth of a new mole or seeing a change in one of the moles you have. You should consult your doctor if you see that your mole is: